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_ • 

Printed by "R, & R. Clark, EdtfUmrfh. 


The Right Hon. JOHN INGLIS of Glencorse, 

D.C.L., LL.D., ETC. 











This book was undertaken in honour of the Ter- 
centenary of the University of Edinburgh, in order 
that any one who cared might be able to know 
by what steps the University has arrived at its 
present position. 

There were already in existence three sepa- 
rate chronicles of the University of Edinburgh, 
produced by three of its officials. I n none of these, 
however, has the history of the University been 
really written. Valuable as they are, they are 
only mimoires pour servir. 

I. The excellent Thomas Craufurd, Regent of 
Philosophy and Professor of Mathematics, dying in 
1662, left behind him a manuscript, a copy of which, 
in the handwriting of William Henderson, the 
librarian (dated 1673), is preserved in the Univer- 
sity Library. This MS. was sometimes referred to 
in the last century, but it was never printed till 
1 808, when it was published under the title of His- 
tory of t/te University of Edinburgh front 1580 to 
1646, by Thomas Craufurd^ etc. ** Annals" would 

viii PREFACE. 

have been a more appropriate designation than 
** History," for no continuous account is given, but 
under each year occurrences connected with the 
origin and progress of the College of Edinburgh are 
detailed. It is said indeed that Craufurd himself 
gave the title of ** Memoirs" to what he had written. 
In quite an early part of the book (under date i6i 7) 
there is an allusion to the Restoration, which shows 
that Craufurd must have been engaged in putting 
the work into order shortly before his own death. 
But probably the whole thing was commenced 
shortly after 1626, when Craufurd first came to be 
a Regent. He must then have collected, while they 
were fresh, particulars about the first forty- three 
years of the College, and have habituated himself 
afterwards to jotting down from year to year events 
which struck him. We are under great obligation 
to him for so doing, for he has preserved for us 
numerous facts which, but for him, would have been 
lost. And everything in his book is told in the 
freshest, quaintest, most graphic style. But he did 
not pretend to be a historian, and his honest anxiety 
to represent the '* Town's College " as a full-blown 
University occasionally vitiates to some extent the 
accuracy of what he records. 

II. Towards the close of the eighteenth century 
Andrew Dalzel (Professor of Greek, 1 772-1805) set 
himself to write a History of the University. But 


he began too late, for his health soon afterwards 
failed. His mode of proceeding was to extract from 
the City Records, in chronological order, entries re- 
ferring to the College, and with these to combine 
particulars out of the graduation lists and other 
documents in the University Library. He thus 
compiled a somewhat dry statement of appointments 
made and classes laureated, down to the year 1723, 
occasionally adding references to contemporary 
Scottish history, with which he was well acquainted. 
He had, in fact, only collected materials for his 
History^ and he probably would have changed the 
form of what he had written, if life and strength had 
remained to him. His unfinished MS. had the 
advantage of being edited and published by David 
Laing in 1862. But even thus it serves only as a 
work of reference, being a set of annals without con- 
tinuity, and on constitutional points requiring cor- 
rection, for Dalzel, like Craufurd, treated the College 
of Edinburgh as a University. 

HI. Alexander Bower, Assistant Librarian in 
the University of Edinburgh, published in 181 7 
The History of the University (in two volumes), 
chiefly compiled from original papers and records 
never before published; and in 1830 he brought out 
a third volume, continuing his History from 1756, 
which it had before reached, down to 1829. Bower 

was strong in one point, that of biographical re- 



search, and weak in all other points. In his account 
of the origin and early history of the College he 
makes ludicrous mistakes, and it is pretty evident 
that he writes under fear of his masters, the Town 
Council. When he arrives at times when ticklish 
questions would have to be discussed, he finds it 
safer to say nothing about them ; so in his third 
volume, which nominally brings down the history of 
the University to 1829, he omits all mention of the 
litigations and other events which had occurred, and 
in fact gives us nothing but a string of biographies 
of the Professors. This, in its way, was a useful 
thing to do, and Bower was industrious in ferret- 
ing out particulars, which would otherwise have 
been irrecoverable, about bygone personages. But 
neither biographies nor annals will constitute the 
history of a University. 

The primary difficulty in writing a history of the 
kind is to find out a method under which the facts 
may be arranged in continuous narrative. The 
method which, after consideration, I have adopted 
in these pages is to treat the College, growing into 
the University, of Edinburgh, as an organism, in 
respect of its constitution, its staff, and its educa- 
tional equipment ; and to trace the development of 
that organism from age to age, without mention of 
persons, except so far as their actions contributed 
to the progress of the story. To supplement and 


relieve this somewhat abstract treatment of the 
history of the University, I have added ap- 
pendixes containing many details. In one long 
appendix, which gives imperfect sketches of all 
defunct Professors who ever taught in the Uni- 
versity, I have, to some extent, by placing together 
the successive Professors in each Chair, exhibited 
the progress of teaching in each separate department 
in the University. 

The three so-called "Histories" which have 
been described are all equally deficient in any 
account of the constitutional forms of the University 
of Edinburgh. They speak of the College of 
James VI. as if it had been quite the same as a 
Mediaeval University. And they treat its arrange- 
ments as perfectly natural and requiring no explana- 
tion. But to me the existing forms and arrange- 
ments were a perfect riddle, which I could only 
solve by going into antecedent history. Hence 
arose the necessity for my two preliminary chapters 
on the rise and decadence of the Papal Universities 
of Scotland, and on the measures adopted by the 
Reformers in dealing with those institutions. The 
events and ideas recorded in those chapters will be 
seen to have formed a set of conditions out of which 
the peculiarities in the foundation of the College of 
Edinburgh took their origin. 

In addition to what the existing Histories con- 


tained, I found the following sources of information 
relative to the University of Edinburgh available : 
(i) The City Records, in which Craufurd, Dalzel, 
and Bower had left large gleanings behind them ; 
(2) the Minutes of the Senatus Academicus from 
1733 to the present day, of which neither Dalzel 
nor Bower had made use ; (3) unprinted documents 
in the University Library, such as the Draft 
Charter of James II., George Drummond's Diary, 
etc.; (4) the Records of "the College Commis- 
sioners" for carrying out the new University build- 
ings, 1 8 16-1834, which are preserved in one of the 
offices of the Town Council ; (5) the evidence 
before the Royal Commission to inquire into the 
Universities of Scotland, 1826-1830; (6) the printed 
Records of several actions before the Court of 
Session and the House of Lords between the 
Town Council and the Senatus Academicus ; (7) 
old tracts and rare books of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries ; (8) published biographies of 
many of the Principals and Professors, from Rollock 
downwards ; (9) scattered notices in contemporary 
memoirs and autobiographies, and in the Scots 
Magazine^ and various other periodicals and news- 

Out of this copious mass of materials I dare say 
I have inadvertently let escape me points of interest 
and perhaps even of importance. I have also made 

PREFACE. xiii 

many conscious omissions, because in fact my object 
was not to provide a work of reference containing 
all that can be known about the University of Edin- 
burgh, but to produce, if possible, a readable book 
of moderate size, and, above all things, to tell a con- 
tinuous story. Thus the reader will not find here 
reprints of Charters, nor the early College Regula- 
tions in full, nor a record of all the Bursaries 
founded from time to time, nor an account of the 
various Commissions which sat upon the College in 
the seventeenth century without really altering it, 
nor an examination of the Theses of the Regents or 
of the draft schemes of Philosophy drawn up by the 
different Universities of Scotland in 1690 but never 
adopted. Some one perhaps will say that with all 
these things, and others too, left out, I have not 
written the History of the University of Edinburgh. 
I am willing to admit it, but I beg that it may be 
remembered that my book has been composed, 
under some pressure of time, for a special occasion, 
as a birthday offering to the University on the Ter- 
centenary of its foundation. And I hope that I 
have succeeded in telling, at least in outline. The 
Story of the University during its first three hundred 

I have now a great many acknowledgments to 
make. This book, such as it is, owes immense 
obligations to my learned friend, Mr. John Small, 


Librarian to the University, without whose warm 
sympathy, and the assistance rendered by his great 
bibliographical knowledge and familiarity with Uni- 
versity traditions, it could never have been written. 
I have also received much kind aid from my col- 
leagues and friends in the Senatus Academicus, 
among whom I especially beg to thank Professors 
Campbell Fraser, Turner, Malcolm Taylor, Lorimer, 
Muirhead, Macpherson, Chrystal, Tait, Masson, 
Flint, Charteris, Grainger Stewart, Dickson, 
T. Fraser, Ewart, Simpson, Chiene, Sir Herbert 
Oakeley, and Emeritus Professor Mackay. I 
have also to thank the late Lord Provost, Sir 
Thomas J. Boyd, and the present Lord Provost, 
the Right Hon. George Harrison, for the cordial 
permission which, with the concurrence of the 
Town Council, they accorded me to search the 
City Records; also Mr. William Skinner, the 
City Clerk; Mr. Alexander Harris, Depute City 
Clerk ; and Mr. Robert Adam, City Chamberlain, 
for assisting my enquiries ; also the Lord Justice 
General of Scotland, for the use of some rare books 
and tracts from his Lordship's Library; also the 
Keeper of the Records of Scotland for an opinion 
on the evidence which I set before him ^ relative to 

^ Having circulated as a " Case for Opinion " among various com- 
petent authorities the evidence on this curious question, I was favoured 
by the Keeper of the Records with the following letter : — " I received 
your * Case for Opinion * relative to the question whether, besides the 


the apparent loss of the original Charter of the 
College of Edinburgh; also Mr. Thomas Dickson, 
Curator of the Historical Department in the 
Register House ; Dr. Joseph Anderson, Secretary 
to the Society of Antiquaries; and Mr. James 
Gordon, the learned Librarian to the Royal Society 
of Edinburgh, for their advice and assistance on 
several points ; also Sir Alexander Christison, Bart., 
and his brothers Dr. David and Mr. John Christison, 
for kindly placing at my disposal an interesting 
autobiographical manuscript, written by their illus- 
trious father. Sir Robert Christison, during the 
latter years of his life. I would also wish to thank 
the Rev. J. Anderson, an expert in old handwriting, 
for his assistance in exploring documents of the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries ; and Mr. George 

Charter of James VI., dated 14th April 1582, another Charter or 
Charters may have been granted in connection with the foundation of 
the College of Edinburgh. I have very carefully considered the case, 
in connection with Mr. Dickson, Curator of my Historical Depart- 
ment, upon whose judgment in such matters it is well known that great 
reliance may be placed. I entirely concur in the opinion which, I 
understand, he indicated to you verbally, that there is a strong prob- 
ability that, contemporaneously with or very soon after, the Charter 
of 14th April 1582, another Charter was granted containing the 'irri- 
tant clause ' to which reference is made in the entry in the City Records, 
No. 3 in your * Case.' Stair Agnew." 

The learned Professor of Church History, Dr. Malcolm Taylor, 
took the same view, and pointed out to me how well the supposition 
of a lost Charter agreed with certain expressions used by Craufurd. 
But the reader will judge for himself on the evidence, which is fully 
stated in Chapter III. 


Pearson, engraver, for the great pains he has taken 
in reproducing likenesses of some of the most cele- 
brated persons connected with the University. I 
only regret that considerations of cost prevented the 
number of such portraits from being multiplied. 

A. G. 

University of Edinburgh, 
19M November 1883. 





Reason for Preliminary Chapters 

Foundation of the University of St Andrews 

Padagogium of St Andrews 

College of St Salvator 

College of St. Leonard 

College of St Mary 

New College 

University of St Andrews previous to the Reformation 

Foundation of the University of Glasgow 

The Arts Faculty at Glasgow 

Collapse of the University of Glasgow 

Foimdation of the University of Aberdeen . 

The Charter of James IV. . 

Bulls of Alexander VI. 

Foundation of King's College 

Hector Boece and his Colleagues . 

Visit of James V. to the University of Aberdeen 

Collapse of the University of Aberdeen 

John Mair's Account of the Scottish Universities 











xirui CONTENTS. 

What the Roman Catholic Church did for the ,^0, 

Universities ..... 48-49 

Abbot Myln's Letter .... 49-50 

The " Purging " of the Scottish Universities . . 50-53 




I. Commission of 1560 for making the Book of 

Discipline .... 54-58 

New Scheme for Universities in the Book of 

Discipline . . . . 58-68 

II. George Buchanan's Scheme . . . 68-69 

III. Queen Mary's Gift to the University of Glasgow 69-70 

IV. Queen Mary's Charters of 1 5 6 7 granting Church 

Property to the Municipalities of Edinburgh 
and Glasgow .... 70-73 

V, " New Foundation " of the College of Glasgow 

by the Town Council . . . 73-78 

VI. Andrew Melville as Principal of the College of 

Glasgow ..... 78-84 
VII. The Erectio Regia by James VI. at Glasgow . 84-90 
VIII. Fundatio Nova of King's College, Aberdeen . 90-91 
IX. New Scheme for the University of St Andrews 

(1579) ..... 91-94 
Repeal of the " New Foundations " . . 94-96 



Bower's Incorrect Account of the Origin of the 

University ..... 97-99 



Efforts of the Town Council of Edinburgh to obtain a 
Seat of Learning ..... 

Their Treaty for the Kirk-of-Field . 

Opposition from the Three Older Universities 

Efforts of James Lawson to get a College in Edinburgh 

Royal Sanction for a College obtained (1580) 

Reasons for supposing that the original Charter of 
the College of Edinburgh has been lost . 

James VI.'s Charter of 1582 

A College, not a University, founded in Edinburgh . 

The Academy of Geneva probably taken as a Model 

The Town Council make Hamilton House the nucleus 
of their College Buildings 

RoUock appointed Regent . 

His emoluments 

The Opening of the College (14th October 1583) 

Nairn's Appointment as Second Master 

College Regulations 

The College Classes 

The Regenting System 

The College Curriculum 

Examinations for Degrees 

RoUock made Principal 

Also Professor of Theology 

The Earl of Arran, as Lord Provost, visits the College 

Appendix A. Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney. 

External facts of Reid's life . 
John Knox's Account of Reid 
Reid's actions as recorded by Ferrerius 
Panegyric of Reid by a monk of Kinloss 
Reid's bequest for a College in Edinburgh 
His wishes frustrated by his executors 
The Town Council receive a small portion of his 
bequest ...... 






















































Appendix B. Kirk-of-Field. 


Old Edinburgh and the Flodden Wall . . 169 

Rise and Fall of the Collegiate Church of Kirk-of-Field 170 

Remains of the Kirk-of-Field after the Reformation . 171 

Appendix C. Disputation at Stirling. 

Craufurd's Account of the Disputation of the College 

Regents at Stirling before James VI. . . 171-174 

Relations of James VI. to the College of Edinburgh . 174-176 

Appendix D. Academy of Geneva. 

Foundation of the Academy of Geneva and its Pecu- 
liar Forms ..... 176-178 

Appendix K Montague College and the Scots College. 

History of Montague College down to the Reformation 1 78-1 79 
History of the Scots College . . . 180 



Difference between a " College " and a " University" 181-182 
Only a "College" at Edinburgh down to 1708 . 183-184 
Foundation of a Professorship of Laws (1590) . 184-189 

This changed into a Tutorship of Humanity . 189-195 

Gift to the College from the Kirk-Session of Edinburgh 1 95-1 96 
Institution of Rectorship and Professorship of Divinity 197-202 
Private Subscriptions for the Chair of Divinity 
The two Senior Regents made " Professors " 
The Act of Confirmation of 162 1 . 
History of the Rectorship of the College 
Professorship of Hebrew created 
James Gregory made Professor of Mathematics 




Beginnings of the Medical School . 

Institution of the Physic Garden 

Professor of Botany appointed 

The Royal College of Physicians established 

Three Professors of Medicine appointed 

Carstares obtains a Grant for the Scotch Universities 

Professor of Ecclesiastical History appointed 

Chair of Public Law created 

Bishop of Edinburgh claims to be Chancellor 

James 11. designs to turn the College into a University 

Internal Administration of the College 

Imprudent Conduct of the Regents . 

Visitation of the College by Town Council . 










Appendix F. Marischall College. 
Origin and Constitution of Marischall College 


Appendix G. History of the University Mace. 

The old College Mace stolen . . . 250 

University Mace presented by Town Council . 251 

Armorial Bearings granted to the University . 252 

Appendix H. Draft Charter of James II. 253-257 



OF EDINBURGH, 1708-1858. 

The Regents turned into Professors 

The new Curriculum in Arts 

Decline of Graduation in Arts 

Professors' Programmes in 1741 

Dr. A. Carlyle's Criticism of the Professors 

Chair of Rhetoric founded . 





276 ' 



Efforts of Senatus to revive Graduation in Arts 

Chair of Civil Law instituted 

Chairs of Civil History and Scots Law founded 

Teaching by the Faculty of Laws in 1 741 . 

Senatus opposes institution of Chair of Conveyancing 

Also of Chair of Medical Jurisprudence 

These two Chairs founded . 

Chairs of Anatomy and Chemistry instituted . 

Alexander Monro primus^ Professor of Anatomy 

Anatomical Theatre provided in the University 

Valuable Services of Lord Provost Drummond 

Foundation of the Royal Infirmary . 

Porterfield appointed Professor of Medicine . 

The use of the College Garden granted to four 
Physicians .... 

The Medical Faculty in the University founded 

Chair of Midwifery founded 

Clinical Teaching established 

Alston, Professor of Botany and Materia Medica 

Separate Chair of Materia Medica . 

Regius Professorship of Natural History founded 
' Chair of Surgery proposed, but resisted 

Regius Chair of Clinical Surgery founded (1802) 

Regius Chair of Military Surgery founded (1806) 

Chair of Comparative Anatomy and Veterinary Sur 
gery resisted 

Chairs of Surgery and of Pathology established 

Full complement of the Medical Faculty 

Growth of Medical Graduations 

Regulations for Medical Degrees 
Teaching of the Faculty of Divinity 
Regius Chair of Biblical Criticism founded (1847) 
Regius Chair of Practical Astronomy founded (1785) 
Professor of Practical Astronomy to be Astronomer- 
Royal ...... 




















Chair of Agriculture founded (1790) 
General Reid's Bequest 
Chair of the Theory of Music founded (1839) 
Chair of Technology founded (1855) 
George Wilson, Professor of Technology 
Suppression of the Chair 

Appendix I. Alexander Cunningham, 

Circumstances of Cunningham's appointment as Pro- 
fessor of Civil Law in Scotland, and his subsequent 
history ...... 

Appendix J. George Drummond. 

George DfUmmond's Early Life and two first Marriages 
His Diary ...... 

His third and fourth Marriages 

His Character, Services, and Funeral 






Appendix K. The Natural History Museum of the 

University of Edinburgh. 

Collections of Dr. Andrew Balfour and Sir Robert 
Sibbald ...... 

Professor Walker's Collection 

Professor Jameson's Collection 

Transference of this Collection to the Government . 





Appendix L. The Edinburgh Observatory. 

M'Laurin's efforts to obtain an Observatory . . 378 

Short's Observatory (1776) . . . . 379 

Professor Playfair's Observatory (1812-1834) . 380 

Present state of the Observatory . . . 381 

Appendix M. General Reid. 

Family History, Biography, and Characteristics of 

General Reid . . . . .382-384 


VOL. I. 

1. East Facade of the University of Edin- 

burgh .... Frontispiece 

2. Robert Rollock (Photolithograph) 

3. Old Buildings of the College of Edin 


4. Alexander Henderson (Photolithograph) 

5. William Carstares (Photolithograph) 

6. Robert Leighton (Photolithograph) 

7. CouN M'Laurin (Photolithograph) 

8. Alexander Monro, Primus 

9. Bird's-eye View of the College of 

Edinburgh, 1646 (Photolithograph) 

10. James Syme 

1 1. General Reid . 

12. George Drummond 

To face pa g€ 

• 132 








• )> 


• » 






• II 




The Engravings by George Pearson^ 





"A dying glory smiles 

O'er the far times." 

The three older Universities of Scotland were 
among the assets of the Roman Catholic Church 
which, at its disestablishment passed under the 
control of the Reformers. In order fully to under- 
stand the historical circumstances, and especially the 
academical ideas, which ushered in the foundation of 
the University of Edinburgh not long after the 
Reformation, it will be expedient to trace in outline 
the character and fortunes of the earlier University 
foundations ; and then to examine, with some minute- 
ness, the way in which the Reformers dealt with 
them on coming into possession. These two sub- 
jects, accordingly, will occupy the following pre- 
liminary chapters. 

Bishop Henry Wardlaw, the founder of the 
University of St Andrews, had been in early life a 
student at Oxford. " But northern men were never 
popular there, and it happened that the Papal schism 

VOL. I. B 


just then made new cause of quarrel. In 1382 
Richard II. of England addressed a writ to the 
Chancellor and Proctors of the University of Oxford, 
forbidding them to molest the Scotch Students, not- 
withstanding their ' damnable adherence ' to Robert 
the Antipope (Clement VII.)." ^ 

On the death of this Clement in 1394 the 
great schism was continued, Peter de Luna, a 
Spaniard, having been chosen by the French 
cardinals, under the title of Benedict XIII., while 
the Italian cardinals had already given their 
allegiance to Boniface IX. Scotland again took the 
side of Antipope, in the person of Benedict XIII., 
who got very little support from the rest of the 
Church, even France having soon dropped him. 
He was indeed a prisoner in his own palace at 
Avignon when visited there by Henry Wardlaw 
in 1404, and Scotland and Spain were then his 
only adherents. To Spain he presently retired, and 
from Paniscola in Arragon he had the honour of 
issuing Bulls which constituted the charter of Scot- 
land's first University. It is curious to think that 
the University of St. Andrews should have had its 
foundation ratified, on the motion of a King^ who 
was a captive away from his own dominions, by 
a Pope who, in the eyes of the greater part of 

^ Cosmo Innes, Scotland in the Middle Ages^ p. 274. 

* James I., who, after being for a brief period under Bishop 
Wardlaw's tutelage at St. Andrews, was captured by the English on 
his way to France for safer keeping and education. The Bulls of 
Benedict XIII. above referred to, cite "a petition lately submitted to us 
from our dear son James, the illustrious King of Scotland," etc. 


Christendom, was no Pope at all. But by these 
peculiar circumstances the foundation was in no 
whit rendered less stable and permanent. 

When Wardlaw found himself a Bishop, and the 
trusted Legate of that claimant to the Papacy whom 
Scotland at all events acknowledged, he may have 
looked back to the days, more than twenty years 
before, when he had seen his countrymen "molested" 
at Oxford. But, independently of this, there was 
case enough for the necessity of a University at 
home, for it was not merely the question of welcome 
or otherwise at Oxford or other foreign schools, — 
but how to get to any such places, amid wars and 
troubles, and dangers by land and sea.^ To the 
Scottish clergy, the class in the country who most 
required it. University instruction was as yet an 
affair of expatriation, risk, manifold hardship, and 
expense. Within seven years after his appointment 
as Bishop, Wardlaw had resolved on the foundation 
of a University at St. Andrews, and had actually 
founded one. And yet it is not now clear how far 
the idea of this foundation sprang originally from 
Wardlaw*s own mind, and how far it was suggested 
by others. Indeed there seems to have been a 
certain amount of preparatory spontaneous growth ; 
and the elements of a University were, to a certain 
extent, ready beforehand within St. Andrews itself. 
In the list of the first professors we find the names 
of John Litster, canon of St. Andrews; John Schives, 
official ; and John Shevez, archdeacon of the same ; 
beside William Stephen, who was probably an 


ecclesiastic there, and afterwards became Bishop of 
Dunblane. These and others not named doubtless 
formed the nucleus of a professorial staff, though 
persons of eminence were encouraged to come from 
a distance to supplement and add lustre to the 
materials which St. Andrews itself afforded. Such 
were Lawrence of Lindores, abbot of Scone, who 
lectured on the Sentences of Peter Lombard ; and 
Richard Cornwall, doctor of decrees and archdeacon 
of Lothian. In all, it is said^ that there were 
" thirteen doctors of theology and eight doctors of 
decrees, besides others. Nor was there wanting a 
corresponding auditory ; for all who thirsted for 
literature resorted to the University from every 
quarter." Accordingly, Wardlaw addresses his deed 
of constitution, dated 27th February 14 11 [12], "to 
the Reverend the doctors, masters, bachelors, and 
body of scholars {scolaribus universis) residing in 
our city of St. Andrews, present and to come ;" and 
proceeds : " It is fitting for me to accede to your re- 
quests" in favour of " your University, which I have 
actually {de facto) instituted and founded, though 
without prejudice to the authority of the Holy See, 
and by these presents do institute and found, and 
which has been laudably inaugurated by you." 

Thus the University had somehow come into 
existence before the execution of this deed in Febru- 
ary 1411 [12], and the one thing which Wardlaw had 
now to do, for the body of teachers and scholars 
which had been collected, was, according to the 

1 Hector Boethius, Scotorum Historia^ lib. xvi. 


ideas of the times, to give them privileges. As 
Bulaeus ^ said : " A University without privileges is 
like a body without a soul." The remainder of 
Wardlaw's deed of constitution consists, therefore* 
of a concession of privileges to the members of the 
University. They are to be freed from all exaction 
of customs. In all civil causes they are to be subject 
to the jurisdiction of their own Rector. Their 
lodgings in the town are to be held by them at a 
rent to be fixed by sworn arbitrators, half of them 
appointed by the University and half by the city. 
Beneficed clergy studying or teaching in the Uni- 
versity are allowed to be absent from their benefices 
and at the same time to retain their stipends. The 
bedells, servitors, writers, stationers, and parchment- 
makers, with the wives, children, and maidservants 
of these, and of all members of the University, are 
to enjoy the privileges conceded. They are all to 
have free liberty of making wills. And they are 
exempted from all tributes, gifts, exactions, vexa- 
tions, capitations, watches, guards, assessments, 
burdens, and services, either of person or property.^ 
Any difference arising between the Rector of the 
University and the town bailies as to the punish- 

^ '^Denique non plus stare possunt Studia Generalia sine Privi- 
legiis, quam corpus sine anima. — Hist Un, Par,^ I. p. 98. 

' Angariis et Perangariis, — Angaria — derived from the Greek 
word d77ttp€iJeiK (cf. St Matthew's Gospel^ v. 41), and originally from 
the old Persian custom of compelling private individuals to carry the 
post — was, in the Middle Ages, the term for a direct service levied on 
the person. Perangaria (which Ducange considers to have been a 
miswriting for Parangaria) was an indirect service levied on a man's 
property, as, for instance, compelling him to give the use of his horse 
or cart, etc. 


ment of delinquents, etc., is to be referred to the 
Bishop and his successors, as perpetual Chancellors 
of the University. 

In this charter of constitution we see exemplified 
what was understood in the fifteenth century by the 
terms "founding a University" — it was something 
more than merely establishing a school with various 
branches of teaching ; it was, in truth, setting up a 
little State within the State. To this Act the consent 
of the Scottish Parliament had been obtained,^ the 
young King in captivity had given it his good wishes, 
and the local ecclesiastical authorities — the Prior, 
Archdeacon, and Chapter of St. Andrews — had con- 
curred. But something more was requisite in order 
to give the new institution the full status of a Uni- 
versity, and to enable it to take rank among the 
Universities of Christendom — and that was the 
sanction of the Pope, to whom, as holding the keys 
of St. Peter, and wielding authority over the entire 
spiritual concerns of Europe, it logically belonged 
to allow or disallow the creation of semi-independent 
literary republics. Wardlaw must have had plenty 
of influence for an affair of this kind with the Pope, 
whom he represented. Yet all seems to have been 
done deliberately and in order. The petition before 
referred to was drawn up, and Benedict XIII. pro- 
fesses, though this was probably a mere matter of 
form, to have made some inquiry into the case, and 
to have satisfied himself that St. Andrews was a 

* " De consilio, consensu, et communi tractatu trium statuum per- 
sonarum, Regni Scotiae." — Bull 0/ Benedict XIII, 


peculiarly suitable place for the seat of a University, 
"owing to its peaceful neighbourhood, the fertility 
of the surrounding country, and the number of good 
houses which it contained." He therefore gave his 
consent, and expressed a hope that " a city blessed 
by Providence with so many advantages and so 
much natural beauty might become fertile in know- 
ledge, and in the production of men famous for their 
wisdom and virtue." About a year and a half after 
the date of Wardlaw's foundation, Benedict XI 1 1, 
signed six Bulls at Paniscola in Spain, ratifying, in 
the most formal manner, all the privileges which 
Wardlaw had conceded, and denouncing the wrath 
of God, St. Peter, and St. Paul, upon all who 
should infringe the charter of the University of St 
Andrews. Four months later, on the 3d of Febru- 
ary 1413 [14], Henry Ogilvie arrived in St. Andrews 
bearing the precious documents, and was " welcomed 
by the ringing of bells from the steeples, and the 
tumultuous joy of all classes of the inhabitants." 
The next day, being Sunday, was given up to the 
celebration of the great event — the Bulls were read 
in the presence of the Bishop and the assembled 
clergy ; they walked in procession to the cathedral, 
where the Te Deum was sung and high mass cele- 
brated ; and the remainder of the day and evening 
was devoted by the whole people to mirth and 
festivity, processions, bonfires, song, dance, and the 
wine-cup. So great a matter for rejoicing and 
pride it was to have obtained a real University, 
duly constituted by the Pope, and legally standing 


on the same level with the great Universities abroad, 
to which so many Scotsmen had resorted. 

One point in the Papal Bulls constituting the 
University of St. Andrews is noticeable, and that 
is the strict system of examinations for degrees 
which they prescribe. Every candidate for the 
Master's or Doctor's degree (there is no mention of 
Bachelors) is to be presented to the Bishop, or his 
Vicegerent, or some one nominated by him, " who, 
in the presence of all the Doctors and Masters 
teaching in the Faculty of the candidate, shall pro- 
ceed without charge, purely and freely, without trick 
or hindrance, to examine him in his knowledge, 
eloquence, mode of reading,^ and whatever else may 
be required, and then with the counsel of the afore- 
said Doctors and Masters (given on oath and 
secretly), shall, if he be found fit, admit him to his de- 
gree, and give him a license to teach ; but if he be not 
found fit, shall, without feud or favour, by no means 
admit him." Such was the high conception enter- 
tained in the fifteenth century of a University degree; 
it was not a mere distinction to be obtained by a youth, 
but it was a license to teach, not to be lightly con- 
ceded, but only awarded after full scrutiny, conducted 
in the most solemn way by the highest authorities. 

Altogether the attitude of those days towards 
learning was reverential, and also enthusiastic, and 
full of faith. Wardlaw had launched his University 
by giving it privileges and nothing more. He 
provided at first neither stipends for the teachers 

* i.e. his mode of lecturing or teaching. 


nor buildings or apartments of any kind in which 
teaching could be carried on. He appears to have 
assumed that when once a privileged community for 
learning had been established, men would not fail to 
join it; that beneficed clergy would gladly avail 
themselves of the permission to teach in it in lieu of 
performing their clerical duties ; and that the Uni- 
versity of St. Andrews might manage to get on, as 
the University of Paris at its outset had done, with- 
out the provision of any regularly-appointed lecture 
rooms. But " during the first twenty years after 
the foundation of the University of St. Andrews 
great inconvenience was suffered, not merely from 
the want of such rooms, but from the multiplying of 
schools in the different religious houses, all of them 
claiming to be considered as constituent parts of the 
University."^ The first local habitation and centre 
was given in 1430 by Wardlaw himself, who granted 
to the Faculty of Arts and their Dean " a certain 
tenement situated on the south side of South 
Street " (where St. Mary's College now is), that the 
regents and masters might therein hold their gram- 
matical schools, or to serve as halls and chambers of 
the students. This then became the pcedagogiuniy 
the headquarters of the Arts Faculty, while the 
studies in the Faculties of Theology and Law con- 
tinued to be held in other buildings, and the congre- 
gations of the University in the Augustinian Priory. 
Under this free and primitive system the num- 

^ Principal Lee's Lectures on the Church of Scotland^ vol. i. p. 16, 


ber of the Students, according to Boethius, excrevit 
in immensum. Three separate Colleges rose up in 
St. Andrews, and yet the want of collegiate endow- 
ments became ultimately apparent, so that in 1 5 1 2 
the Paedagogium was described as ** lying almost 
extinct for deficiency of funds and learned men." 
In Scotland, owing to the rudeness of the nobility, 
there was a lack of that private munificence and 
piety which in other Universities produced so many 
foundations. And all that was done of any im- 
portance for the University of St. Andrews, was 
done by successive prelates of the See, under whose 
auspices and authority three Colleges in course of 
time arose : that founded under the name of our 
Saviour (Sancti Salvatoris) by Bishop Kennedy 
in 1456 ; that substituted for the Hospital of 
St. Leonard by Prior Hepburn and Archbishop 
Stewart in 1 5 1 2 ; and the College of the Assump- 
tion of the blessed Virgin Mary on the site of the 
Paedagogium, devised by Archbishop Stewart, actu- 
ally begun by Archbishop James Beaton in 1537, 
continued by Cardinal David Beaton till his murder 
in 1546, and completed and remodelled by Arch- 
bishop Hamilton in 1558. The endowments of all 
the several colleges were provided by annexing to 
them the teinds of various parishes which had 
belonged to the Bishopric or Priory. But some 
personal expense on the part of the respective pre- 
lates was incurred in the erection of the buildings. 

It is the object here, not to attempt a history of 
the University of St. Andrews, but only to indicate 


certain points in which the manner of its foundation 
and its early circumstances either contrast with 
those of the University of Edinburgh or serve to 
explain them. The three endowed Colleges within 
the University of St. Andrews, on the one hand, 
suggest historical contrast, as they were thoroughly 
mediaeval in character ; and yet, on the other hand, 
they serve as explanatory antecedents, having been 
undoubtedly imitated to a certain extent by the post- 
Reformation University -makers. The statutes of 
each of the three Colleges show that they were 
intended, not to be merely homes for scholars and 
places for University study, but to have a religious 
and semi -monastic character. St. Salvator's was 
defined by its founder. Bishop Kennedy, as "a 
college for theology and the arts, for divine worship 
and scholastic exercises." Maintenance in it was 
provided for thirteen persons ("being the number 
of the apostles"), namely a Master in Theology, 
with the title of Provost, a Licentiate in Theology, 
and a Bachelor in Theology ; four Masters of Arts ; 
and six poor clerks {t.e. young men belonging to 
the inferior orders of the Roman Church and aspir- 
ing to become deacons and priests). The Provost 
and his two theological assistants were to lecture 
in divinity, the Masters of Arts in logic, physics, 
metaphysics, and other branches of philosophy. A 
common table was provided, and regular religious 
services prescribed. To be first Provost, Bishop 
Kennedy called home John Athelmer, who had 
been educated in the Paedagogium, and was then a 


Professor in the University of Paris. It was said 
of St. Salvator's, in reference to its buildings and 
paraphernalia, that "there was nothing outside or 
inside the College which did not evince the piety, 
taste, and munificence of the founder."^ Yet, from 
an educational point of view, it was a tiny com- 
munity, with seven teachers, and only six resident 
scholars. But probably other University Students, 
not on the foundation, were admitted to the lectures, 
and there can be no doubt that St. Salvator*s greatly 
contributed to the stability and fame of the Univer- 
sity of St. Andrews, during the latter half of the 
fifteenth and the first part of the sixteenth century, 
many distinguished men having been members of 
the College. 

It is noticeable that a Bull of Pius II. in 1468 
gave the Provost and Canons of St. Salvator's the 
power of granting degrees in Theology and Arts, 
but that two years afterwards the College renounced 
the right which had thus (to the prejudice of the 
University) been conferred upon them. 

The old Hospital of St. Leonard had been 
founded by a former Prior of St. Andrews to accom- 
modate the numerous pilgrims who flocked from all 
parts to witness the miracles wrought by the bones 
of Andrew the Apostle, but " these miracles having 
ceased," as Archbishop Stewart thinks, " on Chris- 
tianity becoming thoroughly rooted in the country,*' 
pilgrims also ceased to come ; and the hospital had 
been turned into an asylum for aged and infirm 

* Martine, quoted in Lyon*s History of St, Andrews^ vol. i. p. 222. 


women, "who, however, exhibited but little fruit 
either of godliness or virtue." So in 15 12 the young 
Archbishop fully concurred with John Hepburn, 
Prior of St. Andrews (who was ready to find the 
endowments), that the hospital, with the church of 
St. Leonard attached to it, should, " for the sake of 
preserving the storm-tost bark of St. Peter," be con- 
verted into a College for maintaining one principal 
and four chaplains, "two of whom, being regents, 
shall say daily masses for the souls of both the old 
and the new founders ; with twenty poor scholars, 
who shall be all well instructed in the Gregorian 
canius and discantus, and six of whom shall be 
students in theology." 

Thus a religious house was established, in which 
the pious founders secured an interest by enjoining 
daily masses for their own souls. Prior Hepburn 
proceeded to draw the statutes, in which a strict 
"order of living" was prescribed, looking like a 
milder copy of the rule of life at Montague College, 
under Standon.^ The " poor scholars " at St. 
Leonards had their occasional "flesh days," and 
seem, on the whole, to have fared pretty well, but 
they did, in turns, the cleaning of the house, the 
waiting at table, and other domestic duties. No 
female must enter the College, except the laundress, 
who must be more than fifty years of age. A cook 
and his boy appear to have been the only servants. 
And these were the only persons in the house who 
were excused from speaking always in Latin. Each 

^ See below, Appendix E to Chapter IIL 


candidate for admission must be between fifteen and 
twenty -one years of age, must be poor, virtuous, 
versed in the first and second parts of grammar, a 
good writer, and a good singer. In these accom- 
plishments there was to be an examination. And 
if there were several candidates, the examination 
became competitive. Youths not on the founda- 
tion, being the children of the nobility, or others, 
might be admitted, provided they conformed strictly 
to the discipline, plain living, and clerical dress of 
ihe place. There were to be lectures on grammar, 
poetry, and oratory ; and the Students, before pro- 
ceeding to the degree of " Master," were to be 
perfected in logic, physics, philosophy, metaphysics, 
and ethics, and in one of the books of Solomon. 
The College soon acquired great repute, and was 
attended by many sons of the nobility and the 
gentry. The Students had an especial repute for 
their skill in church music. 

After St. Salvator's College had been founded 
in 1456 Regents of the University of St. Andrews 
went on lecturing to University Students within the 
walls of the Psedagogium, which had, however, 
no endowments wherewith to secure the perman- 
ent services of competent teachers. In 15 12 it 
was spoken of as lying " almost extinct," under a 
dearth of means and of learned men. Alexander 
Stewart, at the age of eighteen, had, in 15 10, been 
settled in the Archbishopric, and, at the same time, 
made Lord Chancellor of Scotland, as well as Abbot 
of Dunfermline and Prior of Coldingham, in com- 


mendam. Stewart was the natural son of James 
IV. by Margaret, daughter of Archibald Boyd of 
Bonshaw — and the only excuse which might be 
pleaded in palliation of the flagrant nepotism of 
which he was the object is, that he was really a 
youth of much accomplishment and literary taste, 
and of good disposition. He had been the pupil of 
Patrick Panter, James IV. 's Latin secretary, and 
the first Scotsman who could write good classical 
Latin. Afterwards, when thirteen years old, he was 
placed under the tuition of Erasmus, with whom he 
remained for five years, residing in various foreign 
towns and. studying (ultimately) Greek, rhetoric, 
theology, and music. Erasmus, in one of his letters, 
draws a charming picture of Stewart, his quickness 
and untiring perseverance, and the sweetness and 
nobility of his character. The excellent classical 
education which he had received must have pre- 
disposed the boy-archbishop to take an interest in 
all schemes for improving the University of St. 
Andrews, of which he now became Chancellor, and 
he was warmly, either seconded or instigated, by 
John Hepburn, then Prior of the Monastery. After 
they had jointly founded and endowed the College 
of St. Leonard, Archbishop Stewart turned his 
attention to the Paedagogium, which he resolved to 
endow and erect into a College, for the glory of 
God, the defence of the faith, the increase of learn- 
ing, and the celebration of obits for the souls of the 
King and the Archbishop, and their predecessors 
and successors. '* With this view he repaired the 


chapel of St. John the Evangelist, which served as 
a place of worship to the Paedagogium ;" and he 
executed a deed annexing to it the living of the 
Church of St. Michael de Tarvet, near Cupar. Any 
further steps in the way of erecting and equipping a 
college were fatally arrested next year, when Alex- 
ander Stewart was slain by his father's side on the 
field of Flodden. ^ 

A quarter of a century passed away, and in 1537 
James Beaton, then Archbishop, obtained a Bull 
from Pope Paul III. empowering him to erect a 
" college of scholars and presbyters, with a chapel in 
the same, under the name of the Assumption of the 
blessed Virgin Mary," and to endow it with the 
revenues of certain churches. This Bull not only 
sanctioned, in general terms, the foundation of a 
College for doctors, masters, and bursars, etc., the 
teaching within it of all University subjects, but also 
expressly granted to the regents and superiors of the 
College the power of conferring degrees — a privilege 
which, as in the case of St. Salvator s, was soon 
renounced and merged in the University. Buildings 
for St. Mary's College, on the site of the Paedago- 
gium, were commenced by James Beaton, at his own 
expense, but within two years he died, and a sum of 
money, which he bequeathed for finishing the work, 
is said to have been diverted to other uses. Arch- 
bishop Beaton's buildings, however, were carried 

* Even the annexation of the church of Tarvet seems to have been 
set aside, for this same gift was made anew to St. Mary's College by 
Archbishop Hamilton in 1558. 


on by his nephew and successor the Cardinal, who 
appointed certain learned men as superiors, masters, 
regents, and scholars of the College, together with 
some presbyters and singers for the celebration of 
divine service therein. In 1552 Hamilton, the 
next Archbishop, obtained a Bull from Pope Julius 
III. sanctioning anew the foundation of the College, 
and authorising him to alter at pleasure the arrange- 
ments of his predecessors. 

The principal changes introduced by Archbishop 
Hamilton into the foundation of the Beatons appear 
to have been, firsts to discontinue the teaching of 
civil law and medicine in St. Mary's College, which 
thus became limited to a school of arts, theology, 
and canon law, — in short, a seminary for the training 
of ecclesiastics ; secondly, to increase the number of 
persons on the foundation from fourteen to thirty- 
three, of whom four were to be professors and eight 
to be Students of theology and canon law ; five were 
to be Professors and sixteen Students of philosophy, 
that is to say, logic, ethics, physics, and mathematics, 
with rhetoric and grammar. Hamilton's " founda- 
tion and erection of New College" (as St Mary's 
was now called) had not only pious, but also po- 
lemical objects in view. It was a move of defence 
against the advance of Lutheranism, which had by 
this time found its way into St. Andrews, and had, 
as was said, especially leavened that community 
which should have been occupied in "preserving 
the storm-tost bark of St. Peter" within the walls 
of the College of St. Leonard. In 1558 Hamilton 

VOL. I. c 


executed a fresh deed of endowment in favour of 
New College, in order " to oppose the heresies and 
schisms of the pestiferous heretics and heresiarchs, 
who, alas ! have sprung up and flourished in these 
times, in this as well as in many other parts of the 
world." But in that same year the University books 
recorded that " on account of the religious disturb- 
ances very few students have come to the Uni- 
versity;** the whole matriculation list, indeed, con- 
tains but three names. And next year (1559) the 
graduation ceremonial was omitted, " because in the 
universal confusion attendant on the Reformation, 
it was impossible to be held."^ Speedily thereafter 
the Reformation in Scotland was accomplished, and 
a new order of things was commenced in the Uni- 
versities, of which more will have to be said. The 
University of St. Andrews had now lasted a hun- 
dred and fifty years, and had done a great deal 
towards the education of the country, a very large 
proportion of the eminent men of Scotland having 
been its alumni. After the first flush at its open- 
ing the numbers attendant at it soon fell off", and 
especially after the foundation of a second University 
at Glasgow. It is thought that less than two hundred 
students attended it during the first half of the six- 
teenth century, and still fewer previously.^ In fact, 
but for the foundation of the Colleges, which pro- 

^ "Comitiis habitis 15 Maii anno 59 de promovendis discipulis 
statuit acadcmia omnes laureandos hiijus anni pro laureatis haberi, 
quod universa reipublicai pertiirbationc ct religionis rcformationc 
veteres ritus servare impediretur.'* 

* M'Crie, Ufe of A, Melville^ vol. i. p. 250. 


vided adequate stipends for professors, and mainten- 
ance for altogether sixty poor scholars, it seems as if 
the University might have dwindled away altogether. 

The University of Glasgow was founded nearly 
forty years later than that of St Andrews, a Bull 
for the purpose having been obtained in 1450 from 
Pope Nicholas V. by TumbuU, Bishop of Glasgow. 
This Bull is in the same form, often in the same 
words, as that g^ven by Benedict XIII. to Bishop 
Wardlaw. The King of Scotland, " our dearest son 
in Christ" (James II.), is quoted as greatly desiring 
the establishment of a " General Study " in his city 
of Glasgow. Then follows a specification of points 
in which the locality was suitable : namely, that the 
air was healthy {aeris viget temperies)^ and victuals, 
etc., abundant Wherefore the Pope, moved by 
these considerations, founds a General Study in 
Glasgow, for all times, in theology, canon and civil 
law, and any other lawful faculty ; bestows on the 
Bishops of Glasgow the office and jurisdiction of 
chancellor, with the right, after due examination, of 
conferring degrees and making licentiates; and 
grants to all persons so graduated or licensed full 
liberty of lecturing and teaching, without further 
examination, throughout the world. 

It has often been said that the University of 
Glasgow was created after the model of that of 
Bologna. But the Bull of Nicholas did not pre- 
scribe any regulations by which the form and 
character of the University, as a teaching body, 
would be determined beforehand ; it merely con- 


ceded to the masters and Students of Glasgow the 
same privileges and immunities as those enjoyed by 
the masters and Students of Bologna, and enacted 
that the Bishops of Glasgow, as Chancellors, should 
have the same authority over doctors, masters, and 
scholars, as that exercised by the Rectores scholarum 
of the University of Bologna. In short, it merely 
constituted a literary corporation with the usual 
privileges and the usual ecclesiastical head. The 
reference to Bologna merely defined the extent of 
the privileges conceded to the body corporate, and 
the amount of authority to be possessed by the 
chancellor. The distinguishing characteristic of the 
University of Bologna had always been that it was 
a school of jurisprudence. Indeed, all the Italian 
Universities (except Salerno, which was medical) 
had too exclusively devoted themselves to civil and 
canon law, so that Dante complained that in his time 
men studied " nothing but the decretals," and Roger 
Bacon declared that the jurisprudence of the Italians 
had "distracted philosophy and disturbed Church 
and State alike." ^ Had it been intended that the 
new University of Glasgow should copy Bologna, 
there would have been special encouragements, 
either in its charter or in its institutions, for the 
study of law, but this does not appear to have been 
the case. It has been observed that "the customs 
and technical phraseology of the new University 
early showed an imitation of the institutions of 

* Quoted by Dollinger, J9/V Universitaten sonst andjetst (Munich, 
1 87 1), p. 4. 


Louvain, then and for all the following century the 
model university of Northern Europe;"^ of which 
very recently (in 1432) a Scotsman, named John 
Lichton, had been Rector. This was especially the 
case with regard to the position of the Arts Faculty, 
which at Louvain had assumed a position of remark- 
able prominence, with iowx pcedagogia for its accom- 
modation. In the University of Glasgow, from its 
earliest commencement to the present day, the Faculty 
of Arts has always been distinguished relatively to 
other Faculties in the same University, and to the 
same Faculty in the other Universities of Scotland. 
Bishop Turnbuirs University was started, like 
Bishop Wardlaw's, with " privileges *' for its portion, 
in lieu of endowments. Within two years fully a 
hundred members had joined it, chiefly, it is said, 
ecclesiastics, regular or secular, " for the sake of the 
honour attached to a learned corporation, or of 
the immunities to which it entitled them."* There 
appears to have been at first no stated or regular 
teaching in the higher Faculties. In canon and 
civil law and theology " the zeal of individuals 
prompted them to read occasional lectures, the con- 
tinuance of which depended on the caprice of the 
hearers, whose attendance on them was optional."' 
In the year 1460 Elphinston, who had graduated in 
arts at Glasgow in 1456,* and had performed clerical 

* Cosmo Innes, Sketches of Early Scotch History y p. 221. 

* M*Crie, Ufe of A, Melville^ i. p. 66. ' M*Crie, /^., p. 67. 

* Keith, Catalogue of Scottish Bishops^ p. 1 16. The dates, however, 
of Elphinston*s early life are somewhat uncertain. See Cosmo Innes, 
Sketches^ pp. 262, 263. 


duties in the meantime, crossed over to France to 
attend the law schools of the Continent, thus evincing 
that adequate instruction in this department was not 
to be found at home. 

In the nascent University " the Faculty of Arts 
alone received a definite shape and constitution. 
The members of this Faculty annually elected a 
Dean (in imitation of Louvain, where the Faculty of 
Arts had recently changed the title of its head from 
Procurator to Decantis) ; they had stated meetings ; 
promulgated laws for their government ; and, more 
than all, acquired property by the munificence of 
benefactors, which the University as a body did not 
do for some time. There might be some danger 
of the Faculty of Arts absorbing the University. 
Bachelors* degrees were conferred in Arts, Licen- 
tiates and Masters of Arts were made, and these 
degrees were recorded, not in the University 
registers, but in the register of the Faculty of 
Arts."^ At a very early period in the history of the 
University this Faculty rented a building, in which 
there were lecture rooms for their masters, and 
chambers for the lodging of Students, who had a 
common table. This was the " auld pedagogy " in 
Rotten Row. In 1460 the first Lord Hamilton 
bestowed on the Faculty of Arts a piece of ground, 
on which they gradually erected a new pedagogy, 
which in its turn became the site of the late College^ 

* Cosmo Innes, Sketches y p. 222. 

* Built with funds obtained from subscriptions ; begun in 163 1, and 
completed in 1656. 


of Glasgow, until in 1869 the University was re- 
moved to its present splendid domicile. 

Of the academic life of the Arts Faculty of 
Glasgow in the fifteenth century a bright picture 
has been extracted from one of their statutes, pre- 
scribing the celebration of their annual gaudy day, 
to be held on the Sunday, or feast next after the 
translation of St. Nicholas (9th May), "when all the 
Masters, Licentiates, Bachelors, and Students, after 
hearing matins in the chapel of St. Thomas the 
Martyr, rode in solemn procession, bearing flowers 
and branches of trees, through the public street from 
the upper part of the town to the cross, and so back 
to the College of the Faculty ; and there, amid the 
joy of the feast, the Masters took counsel for the 
welfare of the Faculty, and gave their diligence to 
remove all discords and quarrels, that all rejoicing 
in heart might honour the prince of peace and joy. 
After the banquet the whole crowd of Masters and 
Students were directed to repair to a more fitting 
place of amusement, and there enact some interlude 
or other show to rejoice the people."^ 

Such a glimpse have we of the collegiate organi- 
sation of the Faculty of Arts at Glasgow previous 
to the Reformation, at a time when the other Facul- 
ties and the University itself could show nothing of 
the kind. The Faculties of Law and Theology had 
to borrow the chapter-house of the Preaching Friars 
for the delivery of their lectures, which, as has been 
said before, were only intermittent ; and the congre- 

* Cosmo Inncs, Sketches^ p. 245. 


gations of the University were held under authority 
of the Bishop, as Chancellor, in the chapter-house of 
his Cathedral. Yet all the constitutional forms of a 
great mediaeval University were there, and continued 
to be in use till the last. The four " nations" con- 
tinued to elect severally their four procurators, and 
these to elect the Rector ; convocations of the Uni- 
versity were held ; bachelors, licentiates, and masters 
were laureated ; regents performed their teaching 
functions ; and persons matriculated in the Univer- 
sity were duly admitted to all the privileges con- 
ferred by the Papal Bull, till the Reformation troubles 
brought all this to a standstill ; and then the Re- 
formers stepping in remodelled everything, and by 
their erectio nova started the University afresh under 
a greatly modified form. 

But long before the Reformation signs of waning 
from inanition had been observable in the Univer- 
sity of Glasgow. The lack of endowments, the 
absence of assistance from either public or private 
liberality, dragged down the enthusiasm of those 
who might have aspired to cultivate higher learning 
in the West of Scotland. John Mair, writing his 
history before the year 1522, speaks of the Univer- 
sity of Glasgow as '* parum dotata aut scholasticis 
abundans." TurnbuU's successors in the Bishopric 
of Glasgow and in the Chancellorship of the Uni- 
versity during the century which elapsed between 
the death of Turnbull and the Reformation — namely, 
Bishops Muirhead, Laing, and Carmichael ; Arch- 
bishops Blacader, James Beaton the first, Gavin 


Dunbar, and James Beaton the second — did but 
little for the University, though all were men of 
statecraft and influence, most of them probably 
having been educated at foreign Universities — 
Dunbar having been noted for his literary and 
scholastic attainments, and the first Beaton, when 
translated to St. Andrews, having been the zealous 
founder of St Mary's College. Among them they 
did a good deal for the Cathedral and Episcopal 
palace of Glasgow, but not much to encourage or 
help on the University. Thus it is not to be 
wondered at that Scotsmen of ability saw a better 
market for their talents in the foreign schools, and 
went " regenting" in France and the Low Countries. 
Owing to the troubles in Scotland, and the want of 
stipends in the Scotch Universities, both students 
who could afford to go and teachers of mark still 
sought the Continent. Thus the University of Glas- 
gow has not a brilliant show of names on her lists 
before the Reformation. Among those she educated 
the most notable were — Bishop Elphinston ; William 
Manderston, afterwards Rector of the University of 
Paris, and then of St. Andrews ; Cardinal Beaton ; 
John Knox ; and John Spottiswood, the Superinten- 
dent of Lothian. The only names, even slightly 
distinguished, among her professors were John Mair, 
David Melville, and John Ade or Adamson.^ In 
1563, when Mary Queen of Scots was advised to do 
something for the University, the letter written in 
her name describes the whole institution as a failure : 

1 M'Crie, Life of A, MelvilUy vol L p. 69. 


** rather the decay of ane Universitie nor ony wyse to 
be reknit ane establisst foundatioun." And ten years 
later the magistrates of the city speak of the Pceda- 
gogium as ruinous, and its studies and discipline 
extinct.^ From these ashes of its first development 
the University of Glasgow was destined, like the 
phoenix, to arise. 

The fifteenth century saw the issue of another 
Papal Bull, signed by Alexander H: in February 
1494, and founding a third University for Scotland, 
namely, that of Aberdeen, at the instance of James 
IV., who had been moved thereto by William 
Elphinston, Bishop of Aberdeen. Elphinston had 
had great and varied experience in University 
matters. He had been one of the earliest graduates 
of the University of Glasgow, and had proceeded to 
Paris, where, after three years study of the canon 
law, he was made printarius lector^ or Professor of 
the subject, an office which he held for three years. 
He then migrated to the University of Orleans, 
where for three years more he studied and lectured 
on the most abstruse parts of civil law.^ Returning 
to Scotland with the appointment of Official-General 
of the Diocese of Glasgow, he became successively 
Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Dean of the Faculty 
of Law, and Rector of the University of Glasgow. 
He thus was intimately acquainted with two of the 
great foreign schools, and was personally cognisant 

* Cosmo Innes, Sketches, p. 223. 

* In his Statutes for King's College, Elphinston lays down that the 
Canonista in the College shall teach after the manner of Paris, and the 
Leglsta after the manner of Orleans. 


of all the difficulties with which his own Alma Mater 
at Glasgow, hardly a generation old, had struggled 
and was still struggling. His character, as drawn 
by Hector Boece, was beautiful, and his actions 
prove his zeal for the promotion of all things that 
were lovely and of good report. He was soon in a 
position to give effect to his aspirations, for in 1484 
he was made Bishop of Aberdeen, and thereafter 
Lord Chancellor of Scotland; and when, in 1488, 
the young King James IV. ascended the throne, 
Elphinston appears to have had considerable access 
to his person, and to have been in several matters 
his mentor and guide.^ It is therefore no great 
stretch of legitimate conjecture to suppose that 
Elphinston's influence may have procured those 
two enlightened measures for which the reign of 
James IV. is famous — namely, first, the Act of 1496, 
which required all barons and freeholders to have 
their eldest sons instructed in *' arts and jure;" and 
secondly, the introduction of printing into Scotland 
by means of the royal patent granted in 1507 to 
Walter Chepman and Andrew Myllar for setting up 
a press in Edinburgh. Elphinston s proclivity for 
legal studies would render it natural for him to 
promote an enactment making such studies obli- 
gatory upon the future landowners of the country ; 
though to all appearance the celebrated Act of 
1496 remained a perfect dead letter.^ As to Elphin- 

* Hector Boece, Murthlacensium et Aberdonensium Episcofiorum 
Vita (Bannatyne Qub Edition, 1825), p. 57. 

* John Mair, writing his History of Great Britain^ six and twenty 
years after the Act in question, says of the nobles of Scotland that 


ston's connection with the introduction of printing, 
it has been observed^ that the royal patent to 
Chepman and Myllar refers especially to the printing 
of " legendis of Scottis Sanctis as is now gaderit and 
ekit be ane reverend fader in God, William, Bishop 
of Aberdene," And the Aberdeen Breviary, with 
its " legends of Scottis Sanctis," was actually printed 
by Chepman in 1509-10. 

To promote the foundation of a University in 
his own Cathedral city was doubtless a labour of 
love with Elphinston, and yet there are evidences in 
the early documents that great difficulties were to be 
encountered in starting it. Elphinston's representa- 
tions on the subject were perhaps sanguine, for to 
attempt in the fifteenth century to civilise the High- 
lands of Scotland by a University in Aberdeen 
seems almost as visionary a proposal as that of 
Bishop Berkeley to christianise the Red Indians by 
means of a College in the Bermudas. Yet the 
preamble of the Bull of Alexander VI. cites a peti- 
tion from James IV., setting forth that "there are 
certain places in the northern parts of his kingdom, 
separated by arms of the sea and high mountains 
from the rest, where dwell rude men, ignorant of 
letters, almost untamed, who, owing to their distance 
from Universities, cannot apply to study, nay, are 

they had two great faults : firsts that they were so frightfully quarrel- 
some with each other ; and second^ that they took no care for the 
education of their children. Secundo liberos suos principcs viri in 
literis et moribus non educant, in rcipublicae non parvam perniciem. — 
Hist, Mag. Brit (Edinburgh edition, 1740), p. 33. 
* Cosmo Innes, Sketches^ p. 273, note. 


SO ignorant that persons cannot be found among 
them fit for ministering the sacraments of the 
church, let alone preaching to the people ; and that 
in a famous city, Old Aberdeen, sufficiently near 
those parts, a Studium Generals would flourish ; the 
precious pearl of knowledge might thus be acquired, 
and the rude and ignorant people might gain the 
means of instruction ; that there the air is healthy 
(a^rw viget temperies), and there is abundance of 
victual and houses ; wherefore the King, who, like his 
predecessors, has always been an obedient son of the 
church, wishes that there should be in Old Aberdeen 
a Universitas studii generalise as in the General 
Studies of Paris and Bologna and other privileged 
Universities. — We therefore ordain and appoint 
that there shall be in Old Aberdeen a Universitas 
Studii Generalis'' 

The terms in which this Bull is couched are 
precise, and seem to show the perfected form for 
documents of the kind which had gradually come to 
be adopted in the offices of the Papal See. Among 
other points the import of the word Universitas 
comes clearly out, and we here learn how erroneous 
is the modern and very common idea that under the 
name " University" is implied Universitas studiorum, 
or an institution embracing instruction in the entire 
round of the sciences. This idea indeed is implied 
in the term studium generate^ to which are generally 
added the words " in the Faculties of Theology, 
Canon and Civil Law, Medicine, Liberal Arts, and 
any other lawful Faculty." But there might be a 


Studium Generale without a UniversitaSy that is, a 
corporate body,^ constituted by charter, capable of 
holding property and enjoying certain privileges. 
And it was a corporation of this kind which Alex- 
ander VI. constituted at Aberdeen by the words 
Statuimus et ordinatnus quod in dicta civitate de ccetero 
sity et perpetuis futuris tentporibus vigeat, Studium 
Generale i et Universitas exist at studii generalis. 

One special novelty, however, occurs in the Bull 
— a clause which possibly was suggested by Elphin- 
ston himself, from his observation of the want in the 
Universities of St. Andrews and Aberdeen — of a 
regulating power, duly constituted and of sufficient 
weight By this clause authority is given to the 
Chancellor, Rector, and resident Doctors of Aber- 
deen, conjoining with themselves a sufficient number 
of Licentiates and Scholars, and at least two of the 
Privy Councillors of Scotland for the time being {ac 
duobus ad minus de Regis Scotia pro tempore exist- 
entis conciliariis)^ to frame ordinances and statutes 
for the well-being and conduct of the University. 
There is something certainly remarkable in this 
plan of bringing in from without two high person- 
ages of the State to assist in guiding the University. 

"" * There were many universitates besides the corporations which we 
now call " Universities." In a later Bull of Alexander VI. (July 1500) 
we find a mention of universitates castrorufn^ appidoruni^ villarum^ 
et aliorum locorum. It is to be noticed, however, that Hector Boece, 
Murth, et Ab, Episc^^ pp. 60 and 62, uses the expressions " schola 
universalis " and " universalis academia " to denote Universities. He 
writes loosely, and uses also the phrases " studiorum bonorum gym- 
nasium generale'* and ^^ schola generalis,** He employs the word 
universalis instead oi generalis merely for variety of style. He does 
not use the word universitas in the sense of studium generate* 


It was to some extent an infringement on the 
complete independence and self-government which 
Universities had hitherto enjoined. Perhaps it 
was suggested by certain instances of unwisdom or 
turbulence exhibited by those bodies. And if it 
was Elphinston who proposed the plan, he may 
have desired to have his own hands, as Chancellor, 
strengthened by the assistance of two experienced 
and authoritative statesmen, when he should have 
to sit in council with cloister-bred and perhaps in- 
tractable Doctors, Licentiates, and Scholars. 

The Bull of Constitution, which had been signed 
by the Pope in February 1494, was not published 
by Bishop Elphinston till February 1496-7 ; and 
after all this delay the publication was not addressed 
to the Doctors, Masters, and Scholars of Aberdeen, 
nor is there any mention of their having "laud- 
ably inaugurated" the University, as Wardlaw said 
of the learned men at St. Andrews in his Deed 
of Constitution.^ The publication is addressed to 
all sons of holy mother church, warning them not 
to infringe the Bull. It appears, then, that it was 
found more difficult at Aberdeen than it had been 
at St. Andrews to get together the materials for start- 
ing a University. From the very outset, however, 
Elphinston took measures for getting the Univer- 
sity to some extent endowed, as may be seen from 
a charter of James IV., dated three months later 
than the publication (May 1497), which says : 
"Whereas we have considered that the aforesaid 

* See above, page 4. 


University of Old Aberdeen will be by no means 
endowed with fruits and revenues for the mainten- 
ance of regents, lecturers, and students, — therefore 
our holy lord (Bishop Elphinston) has granted the 
Churches of Arbuthnot, Glenmyk, and Abergamey 
to belong to the University, with their revenues. 
We also, in honour of God, the Virgin, and the 
Saints, grant and mortify an annual revenue of 
;^I2 : 6s. from certain specified lands in our county 
of Banff for support of a graduate in the Faculty of 
Medicine, regularly lecturing in the said Faculty, 
and we only ask in return the prayers of him and 
his successors. We grant to the regents, students, 
lecturers, and chaplains, and all incorporated into 
the University, the same rights and privileges as 
those granted by the most Christian Kings of the 
French to the University of Paris, by James I. to 
the University of St Andrews, and by James II. to 
the University of Glasgow. We constitute and 
appoint our Viscount of Aberdeen, or the Bishop s 
Bailie, to be Conservator of the privileges of the 
University, with the same powers as those pos- 
sessed by the Conservators of the University of 
Paris. And furthermore, we have thought it right, 
in honour of the Trinity, St. Andrew, St. Kenti- 
gern, and St. Germanus, and for the good of our 
soul and that of our dearest wife to be,^ and of the 
souls of our father, mother, and brothers, etc., that 

1 This was merely a general phrase. James IV. appears to have 
avoided matrimony as long as he could. It was not till 1503 that he 
was married to Margaret, daughter of Henry VII. 


a collegiate church {i.e. a college) to be erected and 
founded by you, reverend father, within the Univer- 
sity, on the revenues of Arbuthnot, Glenmyk, and 
Aber^rney." Thus much, or rather thus little, did 
Elphinston succeed in getting from the young King 
— ^a full concession of privileges for the Corporation, 
a grant of ;^I2 : 6s. per annum from the royal lands 
for endowment of a medical lecturer, and permis- 
sion to the Bishop himself to found a College out of 
revenues already belonging to the See of Aberdeen. 
None of the nobility of Scotland came forward with 
any contribution. Those times were different from 
the present, when we often see, in this country and 
in America, private liberality furnishing hundreds of 
thousands of pounds for the creation or improve- 
ment of a University. 

The next document on record is in itself a curi- 
osity, and it serves to show that the newly-created 
University of Aberdeen met with ill-usage rather 
than sympathy or assistance from the neighbouring 
territorial magnates. It is a Bull of Alexander VI., 
dated July 1500, and is addressed to the Bishop of 
Aberdeen and the Abbots ot Cambuskenneth and 
Scone. It is couched in something like the follow- 
ing terms : — "As presiding over the church militant, 
we are rendered anxious with care about the Univer- 
sities. We have learned by inquiry from our beloved 
sons, the Doctors, Masters, Graduates, Scholars, Stu- 
dents, and Supposts of the General Study of Old 
Aberdeen, that certain Archbishops, Bishops, and 
other Prelates, clerks, and parsons {ecclesiastics per- 

VOL. T. D 


sona)y both religious and secular, also Dukes, Mar- 
quises, Earls, Barons, Nobles, Knights, and laymen, 
communities of cities, corporations of burghs, towns, 
cities,^ and other places, as well as private indivi- 
duals, have occupied, and caused to be occupied, 
towns, cities, and other places, lands, houses, posses- 
sions, rights, and jurisdictions, teinds, revenues, 
incomes, returns, and provisions of the said Study, 
etc. etc., and presume to impede the liberties, exemp- 
tions, and privileges granted to the University. The 
doctors, masters, etc., have petitioned on the sub- 
ject ; wherefore we entrust to the aforesaid Prelates 
to proceed against the occupiers, holders-back, pre- 
sumers, or molesters and injurers, of whatever rank 
they be, and, if necessary, to invoke the aid of the 
secular arm." Such are the grandly vague and 
magniloquent terms employed by some legal scribe 
at Rome ; as though the University of Aberdeen 
were possessed of large properties which had been 
infringed by persons from the rank of Archbishop 
and Duke downwards, whereas, in all probability, 
the petition of the masters and scholars of the poor 
little University was founded on some very petty 

* Castronim, oppidorum, villarum. — It is not easy to assign any 
exact distinction between these terms ; they are used with the taut- 
ology of legal documents. According to Du Cange (HenschePs edition, 
Paris, 1842) sub w. Castrum was used in the Middle Ages to denote 
any town which was not a Civitas — i,e, a capital town or seat of a 
bishopric. Oppidum appears to have been used in much the same 
sense. Villa (whence the French ville) had come to mean a collection 
of country-houses, then a country town, and finally a city. In the oath 
administered to members of the University of Paris, they swore — 
Servare pacem villa noslrce, i,e, of the city of Paris. 


Another Papal document, bearing the same date 
as the foregoing (July 1500), furnishes indication of 
Elphinston's policy for encouraging the study of civil 
law in Scotland, and of his desire to give a stimulus 
to the still flagging or impeded start of the Univer- 
sity of Aberdeen. He had obtained a petition to 
the Pope from James IV., to the effect that " though 
a General Study had been founded in Old Aber- 
deen, yet that in the said kingdom of Scotland few 
— nay, very few — persons are got together {con- 
jugati sunt) who carry their studies beyond the first 
rudiments {ultra primas litteras), and study imperial 
and civil law ; while parish priests and rectors are 
prohibited by the canons from studying the subject." 
Accordingly, Alexander VI. issues an Indulgence 
granting permission to all ecclesiastics of whatever 
rank, and to the religious orders, ''even including 
the Cistercians, but not the Mendicants," to lecture 
on or study law and take degrees in the University 
of Aberdeen ; and to the end that their studies may 
not be interrupted, there is granted to them and all 
other members of the University exemption from 
being summoned before any court of justice except 
that of the Chancellor of the University for the time 
being. This Indulgence was published by Bishop 
Elphinston in October 1501. 

We have seen before, from the charter of James 
IV., that as early as 1497 Elphinston had projected 
the foundation of a College within the University, 
had arranged the means for its endowment from 
certain parish revenues, and had obtained the royal 


consent thereto. He doubtless judged, both from 
his experience of other Universities and his observa- 
tion of the feeble progress made at first in Aberdeen, 
that a bare grant of corporate privileges was no 
longer sufficient to draw together, as in the early 
days of Paris, Oxford, and even St. Andrews, an 
enthusiastic body of teachers and Students ; and, in 
short, that the only way to establish a permanent 
school for the higher learning was to provide regular 
stipends and fixed positions of dignity for qualified 
professors, and even to add bursaries for poor 
scholars so as to train up teachers for the next 
generation. It is to be observed, however, that 
Elphinston, in carrying out this view, did not found 
University professorships and bursaries for scholars 
merely attending the University ; he founded a 
" Collegiate Church," an institution in which the reli- 
gious life of its members was the paramount object, 
but in which, at the same time, there was abundant 
provision made for the cultivation of letters. 

Under date September 1505 we have Bishop 
Elphinston's charter of foundation for the College, 
subsequently known to all as King s College, but to 
which he originally gave the title of the Holy Virgin 
in Nativity, and by this title it was still designated 
as late as 1526 in a rescript of Pope Clement VH. 
No mention of the King's name in connection with 
the title of the College appears in the charter. Some 
points of minor interest occur in the terms used and 
regulations prescribed. We observe that the head 
of the College was to be a Master in Theology, who 


was to- be called Principalis Collegiiy an academical 
term apparently then for the first time introduced 
into Scotland. The rest of the teaching staff were 
to consist of a Doctor, of Canon Law, a Doctor of 
Civil Law, a Doctor of Medicine, and two Masters 
of Arts, of whom the senior was to be Sub-Principal, 
and the junior was to act as Grammaticus, and teach 
the boys and young men their rudiments. The 
stipends provided were — for the Principal forty 
merks per annum, for the Doctors of Law thirty 
merks each, for the Doctor of Medicine twenty 
merks (from the endowment above mentioned of 
James IV.) and for the Sub-Principal twenty merks. 
The Grammaticus was to hold a prebend in the 
Church of St. Mary in the Snow {ad nives), a parish 
church belonging to the University. The Principal 
and Sub- Principal were to have free commons, pro- 
vided they lectured daily in logic, philosophy, and 
metaphysics. All except the Professor of Medicine 
were to say masses for the founders. 

Besides the Professors, there were to be on the 
foundation five Students of theology, with a bursary 
of ;^ ID each; and thirteen scholars, or poor clerks, 
"ingenious and clever in speculative knowledge, 
whose parents were unable to help them to scholastic 
exercises r'' these last were to have twelve merks 
each per annum. One of the Students in theology, 
of gentle turn of mind [manstietioris et melioris 
inclinationis), was to be chosen to lecture to the 
scholars on poetry and rhetoric. He was to have 
free commons, while the other foundationers were to 


pay twelve merks per annum each for their keep. 
That is to say, that the theological Students got their 
board and £2 each per annum ; the arts scholars got 
only their board free. 

In one respect Elphinston may be considered by 
some to have set a bad example in his statutes, by 
introducing, for the first time in Scotland, preferences 
for names and localities in the elections to bursaries. 
He lays down that the two first of the thirteen 
scholars in arts shall be chosen from among persons 
bearing the name of Elphinston, and that three 
other bursaries (it is curious that he does not say 
four) shall be reserved for the parishes of Ar- 
buthnot, Glenmyk, Abergarney, and Slains, from 
which the revenues of the College were to be de- 
rived. This last enactment was perhaps equitable, 
or at all events politic. A Procurator was to be 
appointed from the collegiate body to collect and 
apportion the revenues, and he was directed to set 
aside fifty merks a year for repair of buildings and 
vestments. Altogether, the various items of expense 
specified in the statutes for the educational depart 
ment of the College do not amount to more than 
about ;^300 Scots, which in those days was equal to 
about ;^ioo sterling. For the building of the 
College and the Church attached to it the Bishop 
provided funds out of his own resources. The 
statutes contain detailed instructions about the 
church services to be maintained. It is more to our 
purpose to note that the Regents in Arts were to 
lecture after the manner of those in Paris, and that 

1522-1 HECTOR BOECE. 39 

the Professor of Canon Law was to take Paris, and 
the Professor of Civil Law, Orleans, as his model. 
The scholars in arts were appointed to have a course 
sufficient to enable them to obtain the degree of 
Master of Arts, namely, as is stated, three years and 
a half. The Students in theology were to have a 
course sufficient for obtaining the Licentiate in 
Theology, namely, seven years. 

Perhaps this Charter of Foundation in 1 505 may 
be taken as marking the completion, so as to be fit 
for use, of the Church and some of the other collegiate 
buildings of what was afterwards Kings College. 
For as early as the year 1500 Elphinston had 
brought over from Paris, Hector Boece, who was 
the first to hold the office of Principal in the College, 
so it seems likely that the College had made some 
sort of a start, without having got into fully working 
order, before the charter and statutes were drawn 
up. After the death of Elphinston, borne down, as 
it was said, with sorrow for the disaster of Flodden, 
Boece set to work to write the life of his patron, and 
he brought it out with brief notices of the previous 
Bishops of Aberdeen, in 1522. In this book we 
might have expected to learn all about the early 
history of the University of Aberdeen ; but Boece, 
while writing with brightness and elegance, and 
while drawing an exquisite picture of the character 
of Elphinston, is provokingly inexact on points 
where we should have liked to know the simple 
facts. He does not tell us whether immediately on 
his arrival he became Principal of the College ; he 


only says ^ that he was " chosen to lay the founda- 
tions of the University of Aberdeen, and to be the 
first Professor of Arts therein," and that he was 
"enticed to come by gifts and promises."* If he 
was to lay the foundations of the University, it could 
hardly have been started before his arrival ; and yet 
he speaks of his being welcomed by David Guthrie, 
Professor of Civil and Canon Law, who lectured to 
large audiences (frequentibus auditoribus) ; James 
Ogilvie, Professor of Theology ; and other learned 
canons. It is not clear whether those mentioned 
were already Professors when he arrived, or after- 

* Episc, Vit,^ p. 60. Is Aberdontfnsis scholae gcneralis auctor ac 
institutor, qui ejus fundamenta facerem, primusque in ca liberales 
profiterer artes, me (licet minus aptum ad tantum munus exequendum) 
delegit, muneribus et pollicitationibus ad se allexit 

' As a specimen of the " Dichtung-und-Wahrheit " style in which 
Boece writes, we may notice that he expresses regret at having had to 
leave the school of Paris with its learned teachers while he was yet a 
youth who had hardly mastered the rudiments (adolescens vix primis 
literarum rudimentis imbutus), whereas in 1500 Boece was thirty-five 
years of age. With regard to the salary of forty merks which he re- 
ceived as Principal, Dr. Johnson made the well-known remark that 
'* it is difficult even for the imagination so to raise the value of money, 
or so to diminish the demands of life as to suppose four and forty 
shillings a year an honourable stipend." This supposes the coins in 
the Scots currency to be equal to one-twelfth of the same coins sterling, 
a point of debasement not reached till 1601. In 1500 the degradation of 
Scots currency was comparatively trifling. To enable us to judge how 
far forty merks (^£26 : 13 :4) would go in Aberdeen in those days, we 
may observe that twelve merks was estimated as the cost of the board of 
each scholar in Elphinston's College during eleven months of the year. 
Boece had his own board and lodgings free ; he also held the rectory 
of Fyvie ; and in 1527, on publication of his History, he received a 
pension of ^^50 a year from James V. " These sources of income con- 
sidered," says Cosmo Innes, ** there is no reason to doubt that in 
emolument, as well as in social position. Hector Boece was greatly 
above any Principal of a Scotch College at the present day." — Sketches^ 
p. 271, note. 


wards became so. On the whole, it seems probable 
that Elphinston's College was at the outset practi- 
cally coextensive with the University of Aberdeen, 
and that those who had places on the staff of the 
College were, in short, the Professors of the Uni- 

From the time of its first start under Hector 
Boece, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, 
down to 1540, and perhaps a little later, King's 
College, or, in other words, the U niversity of Aber- 
deen, had a career of great activity and success. 
Boece had brought with him from Paris, to assist 
him in his task, William Hay, who had been his 
friend and companion from boyhood, and who now 
became his Sub- Principal.^ Boece records with 
pride the success of their joint labours; and how 
already (1522) many scholars had been turned out 
distinguished in theology and canon and civil law, 
and " very many in philosophy." He adds a list of 
about a dozen names, of whom several had become 
teachers in the University, some had got good 
benefices in the Church, one (though bred as a civil 
lawyer) had joined the order of the Preaching 
Friars, and one had become Provincial Grand 
Master of that order in Scotland. Besides William 
Hay, the only other one of his coadjutors whom 

* On the death of Boece in 1536 William Hay succeeded him in 
the office of Principal. There is in the Library of King's College a 
MS. of some lectures delivered by Hay, while Sub-Principal, " On the 
Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments," being a collection of 
the remarks of various authors on the fourth book of the Sentence's of 
Peter Lombard. 


Boece mentions is John Vaus, the grammaiicus or 
teacher of Latin scholarship. To this name some 
little interest attaches, owing to the value placed by 
Bibliophilists on copies of his grammatical works, 
now become extremely rare. In 1522 both Boece and 
Vaus went to press with their writings, Boece with 
his Lives of the Bishops, Vaus with his commentary 
on the Doctrinale, or rhythmical elements of Latin 
gprammar, of Alexandrinus. It is observable that 
neither of them are printed in Scotland. The par- 
alysis of the higher energies of the nation which 
ensued from Flodden had put a stop to the opera- 
tions of Chepman and Myllar, and it is said that 
there is no trace of printing in this country between 
15 13 and 1542. Our Aberdonian authors went to 
the firm of the Ascensii, in Paris, who were printing 
John Mair s History of Great Britain about the 
same time. Vaus appears to have personally gone 
to Paris, and perhaps he took the work of Boece 
with him as well as his own. His book appeared, 
with an introduction by lodocus Badius Ascensius, 
addressed Sttidiosis Abredonensis Academice Philo- 
sophisy commending "the labour of Vaus, and his 
courage in venturing through the dangers of pirates 
and a stormy sea to the press of Ascensius to get 
his rudiments multiplied."^ The French printer 
compliments the new Scotch University, and claims 
an interest in it on the ground that its " founders 
and leaders have been almost all bred in the Uni- 
versity of Paris." 

^ Cosmo Innes, Sketches^ p. 271, note. 


In 1530 new statutes for Kings College were 
given by Bishop Gavin Dunbar (uncle to the Arch- 
bishop of Glasgow of the same name), but the 
modifications in Elphinston's scheme are not worth 
dwelling upon. In 1534 an epistle was written at 
Kynloss by Joannes Ferrerius, the Italian scholar 
brought into this country by Bishop Reid of Orkney; 
this epistle was dedicatory to William Stewart, who 
became Bishop of Aberdeen in 1532, of a tract in 
defence of the poetry of Cicero, which was after- 
wards printed at Paris in 1540, and is now in Kings 
College Library. Ferrerius praises the University 
of Aberdeen as standing highest in repute of the 
Scottish Universities of that time,^ and says that it 
contains men who might take rank in the first Uni- 
versity of the world. *'What," he asks, *'can be 
be more learned and elegant in the round of edu- 
cational subjects, and especially in history,^ than 
Hector Boece ? What more finished and delightful 
in the mysteries of theology than William Hay ? 
What more apt in the relief of sickness and in 
knowledge of geography than Robert Gray, the 
Professor of Medicine ? In canon law you will 
hardly find any one to surpass Arthur Boece ;^ and 
to pass over other accomplished and learned men, 
what more exact in grammar than John Vaus?" 
In all this there was doubtless something courtly 

* Celeberrimam apud Scotos hoc potissimum tempore (absit verbo 
invidia) Academiam. 

* Cum in cyclicis disciplinis tum historiis. 

' Brother to the Principal, and educated in King's College, in which 
he was appointed Canonista. 


and complimentary. Yet still it testifies, to a cer- 
tain extent, to the respectable character of the 
teachers of the first generation of the University of 
Aberdeen. Evidently they constituted an indus- 
trious hive, and did great credit to the leadership 
of Hector Boece. 

In 1 541 the University of Aberdeen appeared 
in its glory, when James V. and his queen, accom- 
panied by a large train of the nobility, made a 
progress to the North, and for fifteen days were 
entertained by Bishop Stewart at Aberdeen, "ap- 
parently," says Cosmo Innes,^ "in the College build- 
ings." Bishop Leslie, who was one of the company, 
records in the Scotch, in which his history was origin- 
ally written, that they were received " with diverse 
triumphs and plays maid be the town, and be the 
universitie and sculis theirof, and remainit thair the 
space of fiftein dayes weill entertenit be the bishop ; 
quhair ther was exercise and disputationes in all 
kind of sciences in the college and sculis, with 
diverse oratiouns maid in Greke,^ Latine, and uther 
languages, quhilk was mickell commendit be the 
King and Quene and all thair company." 

* Sketches^ p. 274. 

* The Greek orations must have been the work of some scholar, 
happening to be in Aberdeen, who had picked up Greek abroad. 
There is no trace of Greek having been taught in-'&ny Scottish Uni- 
versity prior to the Reformation. Andrew Melville 'learned it (1557-9) 
at the Grammar School of Montrose from Pierre de Marsilliers, a 
learned Frenchman who had been brought thither as master a few 
years previously by Erskine of Dun. But when Melville went to the 
University of St. Andrews, in his fourteenth year, 1559, he found him- 
self the only person in the University who was able to read the Greek 
text of Aristotle. 


The next glimpse of the University of Aberdeen 
which we obtain dates eight years after the royal 
visit, and shows that the first blush of success had 
then passed away, and that a blight had already 
fallen upon the institution. In a document, dated 
1549, Alexander Galloway, Prebendary of Kinkell, 
Rector of the University for the fourth time, records 
the results of his rectorial visitation, made in terms 
of Elphinston's foundation of King's College.^ The 
picture which he draws is a deplorable one. He 
says that there were "no lay teachers" in the Uni- 
versity, so that James I V.*s Doctor Medicus must have 
ceased his functions ; there were few in the College 
beside the bursars, and apparently none who were 
not preparing for the church or for practice in the 
church courts. " The teachers were negligent, per- 
haps from the smallness of their audience." " The 
College had sunk into a convent and conventual 
school; and the design of the University, and the 
great hopes of its founder and first teachers, seemed 
about to be frustrated."* The depression which had 
showed itself as early as 1549 was naturally only 
deepened by the storm of the Reformation. In 
August 1562 the University had sunk to zero, as 
may be seen from the terms used by Randolph, the 
English ambassador in Scotland, in writing to Cecil 
from Aberdeen : — " The Quene, in her progresse, is 

^ In Elphinston's Statutes it is ordained that the Rector of the 
University shall annually visit the College, unless he be himself a 
member of the College, in which case the visitation is to be made by 
the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and the Official of Aberdeen. 

' Cosmo Innes, Sketches^ p. 276. 


now come as far as Olde Aberdine, the Bishop s 
seat, and where also the Universitie is, or, at the 
least, one colledge with fifteen or sixteen scollers'' ^ 

The leading facts in the history of the three 
older Universities of Scotland down to the time of 
the Reformation have, in the preceding pages, been 
brought together. From the general survey thus 
afforded, we see that each of those Universities was 
founded in due form by Papal authority after the 
grand old mediaeval model. They were each con- 
stituted as a free corporation of learned men, with 
self-government, dignities, titles, and separate inter- 
nal courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction, immunities 
from taxation and from civic burdens, and many 
special privileges both for ecclesiastics and for lay- 
men. But we see at the same time that their growth 
was always stunted by the extremely unfavourable 
circumstances which surrounded them. The small- 
ness and poverty of the nation, of which one-half 
was still in a state of savagery ; the continual tur- 
bulence of the times ; and the general rudeness and 
selfishness of the nobility and landowners, were con- 
ditions which prevented the expansion of the Scot- 
tish Universities — which prevented them, indeed, 
from ever taking kindly root in the national soil 
previous to the Reformation. It was not merely 
that the strifes and struggles of the Reformation 
extinguished the Universities, though this was the 
case, as we have seen, with each one of them ; but 
what we find is that, even antecedently to the middle 

* Quoted by Chalmers, Life of Ruddiman^ p. 7, note. 


of the sixteenth century, neither of the Universities 
had attained to any vigorous life of its own. On 
this point we may accept the estimate of a contem- 
porary Scotsman, who, having spent most of his 
life in the schools of Paris, regards his country from 
an external and somewhat critical point of view. 
John Mair (1522) in his naive and simple manner, 
using the barbarous Latin of the Sorbonne, sums up 
the characteristics of three Scotch Universities.^ 
All he says of St. Andrews is that " no one has 
done anything considerable for it, except Bishop 
Kennedy, who founded a small but rich and beauti- 
ful college there." Of Aberdeen he mentions the 
'• noble college of Bishop Elphinston/* Of the 
University of Glasgow he says that it is "poorly 
endowed, and with a scanty attendance of scholars." 
He concludes by saying : " I cannot praise this 
number of the Universities,^ for, as iron is sharpened 

* Hist Mag, Brit.y I. vi. — " Est Sanctus Andreas ibi Universitas, 
in quam nullus adhuc aliquod magnificum egit, dempto Jacobo Ken- 
nedo, qui Collegium unum parvum sed pulchrum et opulentum 
fundavit. Est Abredonia altera in septentrione Universitas, in qua, 
Episcopus, Elphinston nomine, egregium Collegium fundavit, qui etiam 
Universitatis institutor extitit. Est insuper civitas Glasguensis archi- 
episcopalis sedes et Universitas parum dotala aut scholasticis abundans. 
Prsebendas tamen multas et pinguissimas Ecclesia habet, sed in 
absentia in Scotia, sicut in praesentia, ferme tantum rccipiunt, quod 
sine moderamine et prudentia factum est Hunc Universitatum 
numerum non approbabo ; Sicut enim ferrum ferro acuitur, sic multi 
scholastici mutuo se acuunt, sed pro naturis loci non sunt repro- 

* The style here is very obscure. It is not clear whether Mair 
meant to complain that there were not more than three Universities 
in Scotland, or that the existing Universities were not better attended 
— probably the latter ; he seems in the phrase " hunc numerum " to 
be referring to what he had before said about Glasgow being " parum 
scholasticis abundans ^^^ 


by iron, so numerous scholars sharpen one another ; 
and yet, considering the local circumstances, they 
cannot be blamed.*' The two points in the Scotch 
Universities which appear to have struck Mair, in 
comparison of course with Paris, were, that they 
were so scantily attended by Students, and that so 
few endowments and collegiate foundations had 
been provided for them. In reference, apparently, 
to the latter point, he remarks : " And yet the 
Church in Scotland has many very rich prebends." 
He goes on to say that these are recklessly allowed 
to be enjoyed by absentees. But what, judging 
from the context, he seems to have had in his mind 
was, that some of these prebends might well have been 
used for the endowment of University professorships. 
This remark would have been doubtless true. 
Perhaps rather too much^ has been made of the 
services rendered to education and learning by the 
Catholic Church in Scotland. During a century and 
a half some five or six prelates were bright excep- 
tions to the general apathy, and assisted their 
country in entering upon the course which all civil- 

* As, for instance, by Mr. Lecky in his History 0/ England sn Hu 
Eighteenth Century ^ vol ii., p. 43. ^' It must be aclmowledged that a 
very large part of the credit of the movement in favour of education 
belongs to the Church which preceded the Reformation ; nor is any 
fact in Scotch history more remarkable than the noble enthusiasm 
for learning which animated that Church during the fifteenth cen- 
tury." Mr. Lccky specifies, as proofs of this enthusiasm, the foundation 
of the three Universities, the establishment of burgh schools, and the 
Act of 1496 for the education of the sons of landowners. Probably 
one University and the Act in question were due to Bishop Elphinston. 
Burgh schools were very sparsely provided ; and to this day secondary 
education has remained a weak point in Scotland. 


ised Europe had long previously followed. But 
they were not supported by their brethren and suc- 
cessors, and their action, therefore, was isolated and 
inadequate. All honour be to the few enlightened 
Bishops who strove to promote learning in this 
country ! But the wealthy Catholic Church of Scot- 
land in general scarcely deserves praise in the 
matter. How far from universal on the part of the 
Scotch ecclesiastics was any sympathy for the native 
Universities may be seen from an extant letter ad- 
dressed by Alexander Myln, Abbot of Cambusken- 
neth/ to the Abb6 and Canons of St. Victor, an 
Augustinian house near Paris. In this letter,^ which 
bears date 15th January 1522-3, Myln deplores the 
decline of learning in his fraternity. "Although," 
he says, " in former times men of learning abounded 
in our monastery, yet at present they are almost 
completely extinct ; nor will their place be speedily 
supplied, unless we send a certain number of our 
most promising Novices to the Universities, where 
there is a greater frequency of literary exercises. 
But we do not hold it expedient for them to engage 
in secular studies, and are therefore solicitous that 
they should be educated in your college, in order 
that they may acquire a complete knowledge of the 
Sacred Scriptures, and may afterwards be instru- 

^ A splendid Augustinian abbey, founded by David I., on the banks 
of the Forth, a little below Stirling, of which one fine tower alone 
remains. Myln was the first president of the College of Justice (i 532), 
and was employed by James V. on several embassies and in high State 

* EpistoicB Regum Scotorum^ i. 335, 336. 

VOL. I. E 


mental in the propagation of learning and piety." 
The terms of this document throw a strange light 
upon the relations, or rather want of relations, sub- 
sisting between the regular clergy of Scotland and 
the Universities in the sixteenth century. We see 
that the Abbey of Cambuskenneth had fallen into 
intellectual sloth ; perhaps into that state of things 
so graphically depicted by Scott in his Monastery. 
For the means of reforming and educating his fra- 
ternity Myln turns, not to the Scotch Universities, 
but to Paris. And yet Pope Alexander VI., in his 
Bull of 1500 (see above, p. 33), had constituted 
the Abbot of Cambuskenneth one of the protectors 
of the University of Aberdeen ; and in his Indul- 
gence of the same date had encouraged the members 
of all the religious orders (except the Mendicants) to 
go and study at that University. Evidently the 
Augustinians of Cambuskenneth had not acted upon 
this encouragement. Myln*s letter shows an atti- 
tude of standing aloof from the Scotch Universities 
which is not creditable to a prelate otherwise so able 
and enlightened. He need not have been afraid of 
Lutheranism in Aberdeen, for at the crisis of the 
Reformation the professors and other authorities 
there showed themselves rather as conservators of 
the old than adherents of the new principles of 
religion. In 1569, by Commission of the General 
Assembly, Sir John Erskine of Dun, Superintend- 
ent of Angus, made a visitation of the University, 
and having summoned before him the Principal, 
Sub -Principal, and the three Regents of Kings 


College, required them to subscribe the following 
declaration : — 

" We, whose names are underwritten, do ratify and approve, 
from our very heai;ts, the Confession of Faith, together with all 
other acts concerning our religion, given forth in the Parliaments 
holden at Edinburgh, the 24th day of August 1560, and the 15th 
day of December 1567, and joyn ourselves as members of the 
true Kirk of Christ, whose visible face is described in the said 
acts ; and shall, in time coming, be participant of the sacraments 
now most faithfully and publickly ministrat in the said Kirk, and 
submitt us to the jurisdiction and discipline theroC 

Showing no signs of compliance with the requi- 
sition of the Superintendent, Principal Anderson, 
Sub- Principal Galloway, and Regents Anderson, 
Ousten, and Norrie, were called before the Regent 
Murray and Lords of Privy Council, before whom 
"most obstinately contemning his Grace's most 
godly admonitions, they refused to subscribe the 
said articles." They were then sentenced to depri- 
vation of office, ordered to remove from "the 
Coledge of Old Aberdeen," and inhibited from 
teaching publicly or privately in any part of Scot- 
land. "Thus that University was purged from 
their old Popish teachers, who had too long cor- 
rupted the youth and their parents in the North, 
and disseminated disaffection to the government." ^ 

With St. Andrews the case was different; the 
University there had from a very early period been 
a hot-bed for the Reformation principles. We have 
already seen (above, p. 1 7) the character which St. 

* Wodrow's Life of John Erskim of Dun (Maitland Club edition), 
pp. 22-25, from which the above account is taken. 


Leonard s College acquired in this respect. Indeed, 
to have " drunk of St. Leonard's Well " became a 
proverbial phrase for those suspected of Luther- 
anism.^ Archbishop Hamilton's reorganisation and 
endowment of St. Mary s College (see above, p. 1 7) 
was a forlorn hope against the new opinions when 
the battle was already lost. The endowment was 
speedily seized by the Reformers, and applied to 
support the very principles which it had been in- 
tended to controvert. Even the greater part of 
Hamilton's Professors and Students "changed with 
the times, and joined the Reformers." So also, as 
was only to be expected, did the Professors of St. 
Leonard's. The Provost and most of the Regents 
of St. Salvator's, on the other hand, adhered to the 
ancient faith, and were deprived of their appoint- 
ments. But the " purging " of the University of St. 
Andrews was easily effected, and was not nearly so 
sweeping an affair, speaking relatively, as was that 
of the little University of Aberdeen. 

This "purging" of the Scottish Universities, in 
order to secure their conformity in principle with 
the Knoxian Kirk, was the negative side of the 
work which the Reformers set themselves to per- 
form for those institutions. The positive side, 
which for the purpose of these volumes is more 
interesting, consisted in the reorganising of Univer- 
sity education, which they now took in hand. 

The old Universities of Scotland had partly 
failed and partly been extinguished. With all their 

* Lyon's Hisl, of SL Andrews^ ii. 206. 

1569.] THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 53 

shortcomings, there was a romantic grace about 
them which was alien from all the ideas of the 
Reformers, and which could never more reappear. 
We shall now see how the old mediaeval corporations 
lost all their salient features, and how the old terms 
got misapplied, and the University was confounded 
with a College. At the same time we shall see that 
the Reformation triumphant had good schemes of 
its own for the higher education of the country; 
only, unfortunately, it was not allowed to carry 
these out 




''The old order changeth, giving place to new." 

I. The Parliament of Scotland which abolished the 
Papal jurisdiction and ratified the Protestant doc- 
trine, as contained in the Confession of Faith, was 
dissolved in January 1559-60. And by an order of 
the Privy Council, dated on the following 29th 
April, "commission and charge was given to Mr. 
John Winram, Sub- Prior of St. Andrews ; Master 
John Spottiswood; John Willock; Mr. John Douglas, 
Rector of St. Andrews; Master John Row; and 
John Knox, to draw in a volume the Policy and 
Discipline of the Kirk as well as they had done the 
Doctrine."^ The work was undertaken with the 
greatest alacrity, and the famous Buke of Discipline 
was presented, on the 20th of May 1560, to the 
nobility, " who," as John Knox says, " did peruse it 
many days. Some approved it, and willed the 

^ John Knox, History of the Reformation (Laing's ed.), vol. ii. p. 128. 


same to have been set forth by a law. Others, 
perceiving their carnal liberty and worldly com- 
modity to be impaired thereby, grudged, insomuch 
that the name of the Book of Discipline became 
odious unto them. Everything that repugned to 
their corrupt affections was termed, in their mock- 
age, 'devout imaginations.'" At last, in January 
1560-61, an approval of the Book of Discipline was 
signed in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh by twenty- 
six Lords of Congregation, headed by the Duke of 
Chatelherault, the Earl of Arran, the Earl of Argyll, 
and the Lord James Stuart (afterwards Regent 
Murray). But there were too many powerful per- 
sons throughout the country of the same mind with 
Lord Erskine, who, according to Knox, reflected 
that " if the poor, the schools, and the ministry of 
the Kirk had their own, his kitchen would lack 
two parts and more of that which he unjustly now 

But, in justice to the nobility of these days, it 
must be added that in all probability it was not a 
feeling of avarice alone which set them against the 
Book of Discipline. The whole tone of its contents 
was high-handed and unconciliatory in the extreme. 
It may be questioned whether the Commissioners 
were wise, if they wished for the realisation of their 
educational schemes, to introduce into them the fol- 
lowing compulsory clause : " The rich and potent 
may not be permitted to suffer their children to 
spend their youth in vain idleness, as heretofore 
they have done. But they must be exhorted and. 


by the censure of the Church, compelled to dedicate 
their sons, by good exercise, to the profit of the 
Church and the Commonwealth. If they be found 
apt to letters and learning, then may they not (we 
mean neither the sons of the rich, nor yet the sons 
of the poor) be permitted to reject learning, but 
must be charged to continue their study, so that the 
Commonwealth may have some comfort of them. 
And for this purpose must discreet, learned, and 
grave men be appointed to visit all schools for the 
trial of their exercise, profit, and continuance; to 
wit, the ministers and elders, with the best learned 
in every town, shall every quarter take examination 
how the youth hath profited." On the whole, it is 
hardly to be wondered at that the nobility of Scot- 
land declined to put themselves under a yoke which 
would have resembled that of the Jesuits in Para- 
guay, and that the Book of Discipline was relegated 
to the limbo of " devout imaginations," and became 
a dead letter. Yet the project of national education 
which it contained — with a Grammar School in every 
Parish, and a College for " Logic, Rhetoric, and the 
Tongues," in every notable town — confers immortal 
honour on its authors. And their ideas with regard 
to the ordering of Universities, though never carried 
out, deserve notice in this place. 

If we ask what were the qualifications for acade- 
mical legislation of the Commissioners appointed to 
draw up the Book of DisciplinCy we find that none of 
them was especially distinguished as a scholar ; and 
it is to be noted that the two greatest Scotch scholars 


of the age, George Buchanan and Andrew Melville, 
were, in 1560, still absent from their country. 

The Commissioners, however, were all eminent 
men, several of whom had seen a great deal of the 
world. St. Andrews was well represented among 
them by John Winram, Sub- Prior of the Augustin- 
ians, and now Superintendent of Fife, and by John 
Douglas, Provost of St. Mary s College, who for 
twenty-three consecutive years (1551-73) was elected 
Rector of the University of St. Andrews. John 
Spottiswood graduated at the University of Glas- 
gow, and was now Superintendent of Lothian ; he 
had lived for five years in England, and had accom- 
panied Lord James Stuart to the nuptials of Mary 
Stuart with the Dauphin in 1558. John Willock 
had abandoned the monastic habit of the Francis- 
cans, and gone to live in England, where he was 
chaplain to the Duke of Suffolk ; on the accession 
of Queen Mary to the throne of England he had 
escaped to the Continent, and practised as a phy- 
sician at Embden in Friesland ; on his return to 
Scotland at the Reformation, being an Ayrshire 
man, he was made Superintendent of the West. 
John Row, after graduating in arts and studying 
canon law at St. Andrews, had resided for seven 
years at Rome, as agent for the clergy of Scotland 
to the Vatican. He obtained the degree of Doctor 
of Laws from the University of Padua; and in 1558 
arrived in Scotland as the Pope's Nuncio, to investi- 
gate the causes and devise means for arresting the 
progress of the heretical innovations which were 


spreading over the country. But, as his son remarks, 
he proved " a corbie messenger " to his master, for, 
being shocked by the exposure of a pretended mir- 
acle at Loretto, near Musselburgh, he embraced the 
Protestant faith, and was made minister of Perth. 

Last and greatest of all these " Johns " was John 
Knox, of whom nothing need here be said, except 
that he had lived for three years at Geneva, in close 
intimacy with Calvin (1556-9), at the very time when 
Calvin's plans for the establishment of the College 
of Geneva were being carried out. Such were some 
of the antecedents of the Commissioners. 

The Book of Discipline^ in laying down regula- 
tion for the Universities, speaks of them as if they 
had to be created anew ; thus ignoring any title to 
existence based on Papal Bulls or royal charters of 
the past, and virtually cutting short the historical 
continuity of national institutions. In an article 
headed " The Erection of Universities," the Com- 
missioners say : '* The Grammar Schools and of the 
Tongues being erected as we have said, next we 
think it necessary there be three Universities in this 
whole realm, established in the towns accustomed. 
The first in St. Andrews, the second in Glasgow, and 
the third in Aberdeen." It will be observed, how- 
ever, that they restricted themselves to the idea 
of creating anew — that is to say, carrying on with 
certain changes — the three existing Universities. 
The Commissioners made no proposal for the estab- 
lishment of a University in Edinburgh. According 
to the ideas of the Reformers in 1560, the Metropolis 


of Scotland was merely to reckon among the 
*' notable towns," in each of which was to be erected 
" a College in which the Arts, at least Logic and 
Rhetoric, together with the Tongues, should be read 
by sufficient masters." The Book of Discipline, pro- 
viding for the endowment, ordering, and policy of 
the Church, the sacraments, preaching, marriage, 
burial, regulation of life, the punishment of offenders, 
and the education of the whole people, was con- 
ceived, completed, and brought out in the astonish- 
ingly short time of twenty-two days. It necessarily, 
therefore, dealt with all matters in outline and not 
in detail. The form which the Commissioners pro- 
posed that the three Universities should take was 
sketched out in hurried but masterly touches. 
Guided by experience of the past, and a knowledge 
of foreign schools, the Commissioners evidently 
threw aside the mediaeval notion that liberty of 
teaching, privileges to the incorporated teachers and 
students, and offices with high-sounding titles, would 
be sufficient to ensure the prosperity of a University. 
They saw that it was necessary to have a nucleus 
of adequately paid Professors of fixed subjects. 
And they proposed to make these Professors, or, as 
they called them, " Readers," not University but 
College officers. The teaching requisite for the 
curriculum of a Faculty was to be organised within 
a separate College. Thus the proposed Colleges 
were brought into the foreground; they were to 
constitute all that was essential in each University. 
The institutions and offices which had belonged to 


the University, properly so-called, faded into the back- 
ground ; they were not entirely to be abolished, but 
they were to be used chiefly for the purpose of regu- 
lating the Colleges and maintaining their efficiency. 
The Presbyterian Superintendent was naturally 
to take the place of the Bishop in St. Andrews, 
Glasgow, or Aberdeen, respectively, as Chancellor 
of the University. But the title ** Chancellor " is 
not used in the Book of Discipline, which merely 
assigns certain academical duties to the Superintend- 
ent — namely (i) to form a Chapter with the Rector 
and the Principals of other Colleges, for the election 
of a Principal of any College whose headship might 
be vacant ; and (2) to induct the Rector, after 
election, to his office, and to exhort him as to his 
duties. The Rector of the University was to be 
annually elected, not, however, by Procurators 
nominated by the whole body of the students as in 
a mediaeval University, but in the following way : 
the Principals of Colleges, with all the Regents, were 
to be convened in a chapter, and to nominate by 
most votes a leet of three. And out of these three 
the Rector was to be elected by the votes of Princi- 
pals, Regents, and Supposts^ who had graduated, "or 
at least studied theirtime in Ethics, Economics, and 
Politics." This regulation for the election of Rectors, 

* We see the Commissioners here employing the old University 
terms, " Regents," and " Supposts." In the Mediaeval Universities 
Regere merely meant to teach publicly, and this function was at first 
compulsory on all "perfect graduates," Le. Masters and Doctors 
above the grade of the Bachelors {bas chevaliers) who were imperfect 
graduates. When the number of voluntary Regents, i.e. Graduates 
willing to teach, was sufificient, the necessary regency was remitted to 


while reasonable in itself, was a restriction upon the 
old freedom of Universities as literary republics. 
The duties prescribed for the Rector were (i) to 
make monthly visits to each College, and to honour 
with his presence, and at the same time criticise, the 
lectures and exercises ; (2) to act as judge in all 
civil cases that might arise between members of the 
University, and again to act as assessor to the pro- 
vost and bailies of the town in trying criminal actions 
against members of the University; (3) to be a 
member of the Superintendent's chapter for the 
election and afterwards the supervision of Principals 
of Colleges. The Rector's office, in the scheme of 
the Book of Discipline, had no salary attached to it. 
It was probably meant to be tenable together with 
some paid appointment in one of the Colleges.^ 

the rest ; and it gp'adually became a privilege, which was conferred by 
election, to be " Regent " in some department, such as Philosophy or 
Theology. Thus ** Regent " came in Universities to mean pretty much 
the same as Professor. But when "Regents," that is, University 
graduates, were employed to teach in Colleges, the word took another 
sense and became nearly equivalent to what at Oxford and Cambridge 
is now called a College Tutor. The Regent in a College, instead of 
confining himself to one subject, as a Professor does, usually had a 
class of students assigned to him, and this class he carried through 
all the subjects of their curriculum, from their entrance into the 
College till he had conducted them to laureation. The term 
" Regents," as used in the Book of Discipline^ may be taken indeter- 
minately to mean both the " Readers " in the proposed Colleges and 
any University teachers outside the Colleges that there might be. 
The term Supposita in Mediaeval Latin meant all the subordinate 
members of a University, including servants as well as students. 
The Book of Discipline proposes that only graduates or senior 
"Supposts" shall vote for the Rector, thus confining the term to 
students. It apparently contemplates the vote of the students being 
given in nations, according to the old custom. 

^ Probably the Commissioner who took most interest in this part of 
the regulations was John Douglas, Provost of St. Mary's College, 


Besides the Superintendent and his "Special Pro- 
curator," and the Rector with his two assessors (" a 
lawyer and a theologian *'), there is no mention of 
any other University officer, except the Bedell, who 
was to be " subject to serve at all times throughout 
the whole University, as the Rector and Principal 
shall command," and to be paid by dues from the 
students — two shillings from each at entry, and from 
three to five shillings from each at graduation. 

With regard to the privileges of the Universities, 
the Book of Discipline was for taking away from 
them (very properly) the right which they had 
hitherto possessed, of having their members tried, 
even in criminal cases, before no tribunal except 
their own Rector's court. However, it proposed to 
give the Rector jurisdiction in every civil suit be- 
tween two members of his University ; and to allow 
him to claim a seat as assessor in any municipal 
court where a member of his University fell to be 
tried criminally. And it proposed, with the defined 
purpose of leaving their time free for teaching and 
study, that " the Rector and all inferior members of 
the University should be exempted from all taxations, 
imposts, charges of war, or any other charge that 
may onerate or abstract him or them from the care 
of their office ; such as Tutor)'', Curatory, Deaconry, 
or the like." 

So much and no more was laid down in the 
Book as to University institutions. And now as to 

and at the same time for twenty-three years Rector of the University 
of St. Andrews. 


the Colleges which each University was to contain, 
and which were to embody its teaching functions, 
and to define its courses of study. In this respect 
St. Andrews was to be a complete University, with 
provision for degrees in the four Faculties of Philo- 
sophy, Medicine, Law, and Divinity. Glasgow and 
Aberdeen were to be incomplete Universities, with 
no provision for the teaching of medicine. This 
arrangement was based upon the existence before- 
hand of three Colleges in the University of St. 
Andrews (see above, pp. 10-18). These three Col- 
leges were now to be reoi^nised as follows : — The 
first College was to provide for degrees in Philosophy 
and Medicine. The curriculum for Philosophy (or, 
as we should now say. Arts), was to occupy three 
years; one year of Dialectic; one year of Mathe- 
matics, comprising Arithmetic, Geometry, Cosmo- 
graphy, and Astronomy ; and one year of Natural 
Philosophy. Then, in the same College, a Reader 
in Medicine was to complete his course in five years, 
and graduate those who had successfully gone 
through it 

The second College was to turn out graduates in 
Law, after a one year s course in Ethics, Economics, 
and Politics; and a four years' course, under two 
readers, in Municipal Law and Roman Law. 

The third College was for graduation in Divinity ; 
there was to be a one year's course in the Greek 
and Hebrew languages, and then a five years* 
course in divinity under two readers, one in the Old 
Testament and one in the New. 


Each College was to have a Principal, who was 
to manage College property, administer discipline, 
and supervise teaching, but not himself to teach. In 
each College there were to be twenty-four bursars, 
to be admitted by a chapter consisting of the joint 
Principals and the ministry, the parish ministers 
being added, as likely to be acquainted with the 
family circumstances and character of applicants for 
the bursaries. 

The Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen were 
to have only two Colleges each, of which one was to 
be the counterpart of the first College at St. Andrews, 
minus medicine. That is, it was to be a College for 
Philosophy (or Arts) alone. The second College in 
Glasgow and Aberdeen was to provide for gradua- 
tion in both Law and Divinity, and to comprise all 
the courses of teaching which were to be given in 
the second and third Colleges of St. Andrews. In 
both Glasgow and Aberdeen there would thus be 
saved the cost of buildings for one College, the salary 
of a Reader in Medicine, and twenty-four bursaries. 
That would be the only difference between those 
Universities and that of St. Andrews. The con- 
ception of the Commissioners, then, was that the 
University education of Scotland should be conducted 
by means of Colleges, with a division of labour 
between them, each College representing one or 
more Faculties. The old Colleges of St. Salvator, 
St. Leonard, St. Mary, and King's College, were 
no longer to be religious houses, but schools of 
science. And instead of College tutors, under the 


name of " Regents," to conduct each his own class 
through all the different subjects necessary for 
graduation ; there were to be separate Professors or 
" Readers" for the separate branches. It was only 
in Medicine that the whole course was to be en- 
trusted to one teacher. 

No provision was to be made for any elementary 
teaching in the Universities, not even of Latin ; 
though, of course, according to the custom of the 
times, all the lectures in every subject would have 
been delivered in Latin. But it must be remem- 
bered that the University scheme of the Book of 
Discipline was not meant to be taken by itself ; it was 
meant to be the apex of a graded system of national 
instruction. The Commissioners contemplated that 
when this system should be in full working no 
student would come to a University who had not 
passed through ( i ) two years of primary instruction, 
including the catechism ; (2) three or four years of 
grammar, ;.^. Latin; (3) four years of Greek, Logic, 
and Rhetoric ; altogether nine or ten years, which 
would bring the Student to the University at the age 
of sixteen or seventeen. He would have to produce 
"a testimonial from the master of the school, and 
the minister of the town where he was instructed in 
the tongues ; " and he would have to pass an 
entrance examination, in which, if he should be 
" found to be sufficiently instructed in Dialectic," he 
would be allowed to proceed at once to mathematics, 
thus reducing his course in philosophy to two years.^ 

* It is to be noticed that the authors of the Book of Discipline had 
VOL. I. F 


Every Student in the University was to graduate 
in Philosophy, which he might be expected to do at 
the age of eighteen or nineteen ; after which it would 
be open to him to enter on a five years' course of 
Medicine or Law ; or a six years' course of Divinity. 
The Commissioners considered that at the age of 
twenty-four the Student would have completed his 
courses, and be prepared * to commence serving the 
Church or Commonwealth in one of the learned 

One cannot but be struck by the sternly practical 
character of the scheme. Mediaeval subtleties are 
pushed aside in it, and equally so humanism ; the 
curriculum of Philosophy was to consist, with the 
exception of Logic, which might have been got 
through beforehand, entirely of Mathematics and 
the Physical Science of the day. Plato was to be 
read in the Divinity Colleges, but this was the only 
trace of any encouragement to literature throughout 
the scheme. In the professional courses Municipal 
was to be substituted for Canon Law ; and a thorough 
textual knowledge of the Old and New Testament, 
in the original tongues, for the Sentences of Peter 

In spite of its deficiency in regard of literature 
this was, on the whole, a high type of University. 
Slowly and by degrees the Universities of Scotland 
have subsequently succeeded in realising this type 
in their professional Faculties, especially that of 

no jealousy of University subjects being taught in High Schools. On 
the contrary, they encouraged it. 


Medicine. But, owing to causes to be hereafter 
brought out, the Faculty of Arts in the Scottish 
Universities has always failed to attain the high 
level, above all school teaching, proposed for it on 
the scheme of the Reformers. That scheme, with 
every advantage, could not have been worked out 
in a day ; it demanded a complete system of graded 
education below it, \vith High Schools equal to the 
German Gymnasien of the present day. With full 
national unanimity, and cordial, high-minded, co- 
operation of all ranks, such a system could have 
been realised under men like Andrew Melville and 
Alexander Arbuthnot. But how hard, even in the 
nineteenth century, to find national unanimity and 
enthusiasm about schemes for the higher education 
of the country ! It is no wonder, then, that in 1560 
the scheme of the Book of Discipline was still-born ; 
and that of its best recommendations, some were 
worked out piecemeal long afterwards, and some 
have never been realised to the present moment. 

There is one more point in the unfulfilled pro- 
posals of the Commissioners which deserves mention 
here — namely, their notions as to the stipends of 
University officers. When they wrote they were in 
sanguine expectation of obtaining sufficient church 
property to meet all reasonable demands ; therefore 
they set down simply what they thought would be 
fair. They were for allowing Principals of Col- 
leges ;^200 a-year ; Readers in Hebrew, Greek, 
and Divinity ;^200 ; Readers in Medicine and Laws 
£ia :6: 8 each. They set the stipend of each 


Bursar in Philosophy, Medicine, and Law at j^20 
per annum, and of each Divinity Bursar at JC24. ; 
and they estimated the total cost of maintaining the 
three Universities of Scotland at the modest sum of 
jC9^40 Scots ^ per annum. A fund for buildings 
and repairs was to be provided by dues levied on 
the Students, according to their social rank and cir- 
cumstances, at entrance and on graduation. 

II. T\i^ Book of Discipline having been quietly 
allowed to drop, the Universities remained in the 
dilapidated condition to which the Reformation had 
reduced them. In 1563 a petition was addressed to 
the Queen and the Lords of Articles stating that the 
patrimony of the Colleges, especially at St. Andrews, 
was being wasted, and science and tongues imper- 
fectly taught, and praying a remedy. A Committee 
was then appointed by Parliament (see Acts ii. 544), 
of whom George Buchanan ^ was one, and the report 
of this Committee contained Buchanan's scheme for 
the remodelling of the University of St. Andrews, 
which differed in some respects from that of the 
Book of Discipline. 

* In 1 560 j£ 1 3 Scots money was equivalent to about ;^3 English ; 
therefore j£9640 Scots =^^2224 : 12 : 3! English. 

' Buchanan had returned to Scotland from his long sojourn in France 
during the summer of 1 561. In January 1561-62 Randolph, the English 
Envoy, wrote to Mr. Secretary Cecil : — " There is with the Queen one 
called Mr. George Bowhannan, a Scottish man, very well learned, that 
was schoolmaster to M. de Brissac's son, very godly and honest, whom 
I have always judged fitter than any one I know." And in April 
1562 Randolph again wrote: — "The Queen readeth daily after her 
dinner, instructed by a learned man, Mr. George Bowhannan, some- 
what of Livy." 


He proposed that of the three Colleges the first 
should be entirely devoted to languages; in fact, 
that it should be a Grammar School, like the great 
school attached to Calvin's Academy in Geneva. 

The second was to be a College of Philosophy 
and Medicine, with four Regents in Philosophy, and 
one Reader in Medicine. 

The third College was to include Divinity and 
Law ; the Principal was to be Reader in Hebrew, 
and there was to be one Reader in Law. 

This scheme was less complete and less ambi- 
tious than the preceding one. All hopes of seeing 
national education organised, and high schools estab- 
lished in every notable town, had now been frus- 
trated, and Buchanan therefore proposed to provide 
for the grounding of Students in humanity within the 
University. But his plan, equally with that of the 
Book of DisciplinCy fell to the ground, and nothing 
came of it. 

in. It was in Glasgow first that something was 
accomplished by the Reformers. Mary Queen of 
Scots, perhaps stimulated thereto by Buchanan, who 
was still in her confidence, now appears on the 
scene as the restorer of learning. Being in Glasgow, 
on the 13th July 1563, she issues a letter to the 
Lords of Council and Session and the Comptroller, 
founding five bursaries in the College of Glasgow, 
in the following terms : " Forasmuch as within the 
city of Glasgow a College and University was 
devised to be had, wherein the youth might be 


brought up in letters and knowledge, the Common- 
wealth served, and virtue increased ; of the which 
College one part of the schools and chambers being 
built, the rest thereof, as well dwellings as provision 
for the poor bursars and masters to teach, ceased, — 
so that the same appeared rather to be the decay of 
a University than anywise to be reckoned an estab- 
lished foundation. And we for the zeal we bear to 
letters," etc. Mary grants the manse and kirk- 
room (site of the church) of the Preaching Friars, 
thirteen acres of land lying beside the same city, 
and various dues on different properties. Ordains 
the " Master of the said College and University "^ to 
take up these emoluments ; and expresses a design 
of endowing, at some future time, the College 
" with such reasonable living that therein the liberal 
sciences may be plainly taught, just as the same are 
in other Colleges of this realm. So that the College 
shall be reputed Our Foundation in all time coming." 

IV. On the 9th February 1566-67 Darnley's 
murder took place. And it is remarkable that within 
five weeks of that date Mary signed two charters, 
which it must have been most unpalatable to 
her to grant, handing over all the monastic property 
existing within the burghs of Edinburgh and Glas- 

* Perhaps this is the first instance on record of a College being 
identified with a University. The Principal of the College is regarded 
in the above document as administrative head of the University. 
This was evidently the idea of the Reformers. University work was 
to be carried out by Colleges. If, as at Glasgow, there was only one 
College, then a College with University functions constituted the 


gow to the Provost, Bailies, Council, and Communi- 
ties of those burghs respectively, for behoof of 
Protestant ministers of the Gospel and support of 
the poor. It is perhaps not unwarrantable to con- 
jecture that these charters were extorted from Queen 
Mary under stress of the storm of unpopularity 
which followed upon her husband s murder. How- 
ever that may be, the charter in favour of the town 
of Edinburgh was signed 13th March, and that in 
favour of the town of Glasgow on the i6th March 
1566-67. Both charters were signed in Edinburgh 
in the presence of the same witnesses, and the terms 
in which they were couched are almost word for 
word identical. Queen Mary grants to the muni- 
cipal corporations respectively the lands and buildings 
of all sorts which had belonged to the Dominicans, 
Preaching Friars, or Franciscans, " all the gardens, 
orchards, crofts, annual returns, fruits, dues, profits, 
emoluments, farms, alms, the daill-silver,^ obits, and 
all anniversaries belonging to any altarage, chapelry, 
or prebend whatsoever," with liberty of turning the 
buildings into hospitals {i.e. alms-houses), under 
advice of the town ministers, and with obligation to 
sustain ministers, readers, and other ecclesiastical 
burdens. The whole of these properties to be 
united into a general trust, which was to be called 


* ** Lie daill-silver " appears to have been money left to Collegiate 
churches to be " dealt " or divided among the officiating clergy who 
performed services on the anniversary of the death of the testator. 
See JamiesofCs Dictionary ^ sub voce. The " daill-silver " then was 
only a special form of the " obits " and " anniversaries " mentioned 


" Queen Mary's Foundation^ for the Ministers and 
Hospitals " of Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively* 

These charters were not intended originally for 
the encouragement of learning or education. They 
simply granted monastic property for the support of 
the Reformed clergy and the poor. But they are 
mentioned here because in each case King James 
VI. made his mother's gift available for University 
purposes. In the case of Glasgow it was simply 
handed over to " our College of Glasgow," and in 
the case of Edinburgh it was confirmed to the 
Town Council, with liberty to turn it to educational 
uses. This, however, was done in the one case ten 
years, in the other sixteen years, after Mary's grant. 
And in the meantime but little of the property had 
been realised by the municipalities, much had been 
alienated and lost. 

It is true that the charters each contained a 
clause, dictated by Mary's Protestant advisers, 
animadverting upon the unsettled state of the pro- 
perties in question, and referring to the fact that 
prebendaries, chaplains, and friars, had, after the 
Reformation (post alterationem religionis), fraudu- 
lently sold and alienated lands and benefices ; and 
that many private persons had claimed to be rightful 
owners of lands which their ancestors had mortified 
to the Church, and had actually gained possession of 
them through the negligence of the town officials 
and collusion of the ecclesiastics. The charters 
annul all these alienations and usurpations ; but at 

^ Fundatio nostra Ministerii et Hospitalitatis. 


the same time Mary, or her Cathoh'c friends, got 
another clause inserted to the effect that all existing 
prebendaries, chaplains, and friars were to retain the 
liferent of their respective benefices. This last 
clause must have had an obstructive effect, rendering 
it hard to realise the properties. And the ultimate 
result was that from Queen Mary's gift, with its 
long list of monastic lands, buildings, and sources of 
annual income, the College of Glasgow only obtained 
an annual revenue of ;^300 Scots, and the Town 
Council of Edinburgh only got sites for their High- 
School and College, with a revenue for the latter of 
;^200 Scots, from the ground-annuals of the Kirk-of- 

V. On the 8th January 1572-73 — that is, nearly 
SIX years after the date of Queen Mary's charter — 
the Town Council of Glasgow, who had been made 
by that charter the nominal inheritors of all mon- 
astic property within the burgh, and who had by 
this time found out how extremely little there was 
available for the maintenance of the poor and the 
ministry, threw "Queen Mary's Foundation" over- 
boardy and made a generous present of the whole of 
it to the Paedagogium, or College of Glasgow. 
They acted in this matter, as they tell us, under the 
advice of Master Andrew Hay, Rector of the parish 
of Renfrew, Vice-Superintendent and Rector, for the 
time being, of the University of Glasgow. The 
deed in which they embodied their purpose was 
the work of some accomplished humanist. Through- 


out, except in a few strictly business clauses, it is 
classical and literary, and forms a contrast to the 
official mediaeval Latin of Mary's charter. The 
style suggests the hand of Buchanan ;^ perhaps he 
and Andrew Hay concocted the document together. 
This deed, under the title of the " New Foundation 
of the College or Pedagogue of Glasgow, by the 
Town," was ratified by the Parliament of Scotland a 
few days after it had been signed by the Town 

After an eloquent preamble on the decay of 
learning, the Provost and Bailies make over " to our 
College of Glasgow" all the church property granted 
to us by Queen Mary, for the decent support of 
Regents and Students to the number of fifteen per- 
sons — the first to be a Professor of Theology, and to 
be called the Principal or Provost of the College ; 
then two Regents to teach dialectic, physics, ethics, 
politics, and, " in short, all philosophy" {i.e. Aris- 
totle) ; then twelve poor Students with an aptitude 
for letters and philosophy. 

The Principal to hold office for life, unless he 
prove himself unworthy, in which case he may be 
deposed by the Rector of the University, the Dean 
of Faculty, the Rector of the parish of Hamilton, 
and the Rector of the Church of Glasgow. 

The Regents to be removable after their sixth 
year of office, when they shall each have carried two 

* Buchanan evidently took a great interest in the College of Glas- 
gow. He afterwards became one of its benefactors, and presented it 
with a collection of books. 


classes through the curriculum, at the discretion of 
the Principal, the Rector of the University, and the 
Dean of Faculty — "especially if they shall have 
begun to get tired of their work." 

The twelve Students to be provided with meat, 
drink, College chambers, and the usual conveniences 
{reliquisque asiamentis) for three and a half years, 
that being the period laid down by the statutes of 
the Faculty of Arts for taking the degree of Master. 

The Principal to lecture on Sundays in the 
College on the Scriptures ; and to have the vicarage 
of Colmonell, with annual teinds to the amount of 
40 merles ; also 20 merks as a first charge on the 
income of the College. 

The two Regents each to have ;^20 for dress 
and expenses. They are to read prayers by turns 
in the neighbouring church, formerly of the Preach- 
ing Friars. The poor students in turn to ring the 

The Principal to be bound to live in College. 
The patronage of his office to belong to the Chan- 
cellor of the University (or his Vice), the Rector of 
the University, the rector of Hamilton, and the 
Rector of the Church of Glasgow. 

The Regents to be appointed by the Rector of 
the University, the Principal, and the Dean of 

The twelve poor Students to be presented by 
the Town-Council, with a right of admission or rejec- 
tion of the presentees reserved to the Principal and 
Regents. Sons of burgesses, sufficiently instructed 


in re GrammcUica {i.e. in Latin), are those for whom 
the bursaries are intended. 

The masters of the College, if they find it neces- 
sary, may marry " in the name of the Lord ;" but 
they are not to keep their wives in College, The 
fifteen persons on the foundation are to eat and 
sleep in College. 

The foundationers, and others who may come to 
live with them for the sake of study, are to be 
exempt from ordinary civic jurisdiction, and from all 
customs, exactions, and payments {J>edagiis)^ levied 
within the city. 

The College is to be visited twice a year by the 
Rector of the University and the Dean of Faculty, 
together with the town Bailies. 

The foregoing statutes, being drawn up under 
the advice of Andrew Hay, naturally contain no 
infringement of the rights or prestige of the Uni- 
versity of Glasgow. The high University officials 
are invested with considerable authority over the 
College, and the studies therein are to be arranged 
in reference to the regulations of the Faculty of 
Arts. There is even a renewal of the mediaeval idea 
of "privileges" in the immunity from municipal 
taxation, and from municipal jurisdiction, granted to 
the inmates of the College. There was nothing 
objectionable, from a University point of view, in the 
ministers of Hamilton and of Glasgow being asso- 

^ Pedagium^ from which paier or payer (in French) and " pay- 
ment" (in English) are derived, was originally " foot-money." Pedagia 
dicuntur qua dantur a transcuntibus in locum constituiunt a Pfincipc. 
It came to be used by the mediaeval writers for all kinds of payment. 


ciated in the patronage of the principalship ; and the 
Town Council assigned to themselves and their suc- 
cessors very modest functions with reference to the 
College, They claimed no right of regulating or 
interfering with the studies of the place, but merely 
the power of presenting to bursaries, and of visiting 
the College in conjunction with the Rector of the 
University and the Dean of Faculty. 

This " New Foundation by the Town" of Glas- 
gow consisted then, not in any innovation upon the 
constitution of the University, but merely in the 
setting up, or revival, with very slender endow- 
ments, of a College in Arts. It was perhaps owing 
to the want of means that, instead of having separate 
readers for the different branches of philosophy, as 
prescribed in the Book of Discipline, two Regents 
were to constitute the teaching staff, and each was 
to carry his class through the whole course requisite 
for a degree in Arts. The Principal was only to 
lecture on the Scriptures, and that, not as preparing 
for a degree in Theology, but as the Sunday in- 
struction of Arts students. 

At this time the Psedagogium, or College, of 
Glasgow was, and had been for some sixteen years, 
under the Principalship of John Davidson, a Paris- 
bred scholar, "modest and candid," says M'Crie, 
"although not of great learning." In 1557 he had 
been made " Regens Principalis Paedagogii Glasgu- 
ensis," and he was the person designated in Mary's 
letter of 1563 as "Master of the said College and 
University." It was said to have been entirely 


through the exertions of Davidson that the College, 
for a number of years, was preserved in existence. 
The "New Foundation" of 1572-73 gave it 
statutes, but not funds ; that is to say, only ;^300 
Scots per annum. "There was maintenance for 
only two Regents, with almost no provision for 
bursars. The consequence was that the students 
gradually dispersed, and upon the death of Principal 
Davidson the classes were completely broken up."* 
The exact date of this occurrence is not, however, 

VI. Not long after, there came a brilliant sunrise 
of education for Scotland. In 1574 Andrew Mel- 
ville, at the age of twenty -nine, full of youthful 
vigour and ripe learning, arrived in Edinburgh from 
Geneva, where for five years he had held the Chair 
of Humanity.* Immediately on his arrival he was 
in great request. The Regent Morton at once 
offered him a place in his household, to be a stepping- 
stone to future promotion. This, however, Melville 
declined, preferring an academical life to the career 
of a courtier. The Universities of St. Andrews and 
Glasgow then began to compete for his services. 
At the General Assembly of August 1 5 74 the Synod 
of Fife applied to have Melville appointed Provost 

* M'Crie, Life of Andrew Melville^ vol. i. p. 71. 

' That is, of clai^sics, ue, Greek and Latin, not Latin alone. On 
Melville's arrival in Geneva, " they having need of a Professor of 
Humanity in the College, put him within two or three days to trial in 
Virgil and Homer," and then appointed him (see James Melville's 
Diaryy Bannatync Club edition, p. 33. Melville appears to have 
been classical tutor in the Academy of Geneva. 


of St Mary's College, St. Andrews, in the room of 
John Douglas,^ who had just died. But Archbishop 
Boyd and Andrew Hay, as Superintendent of the 
West, urged so strongly the ruined condition of the 
University of Glasgow, that the Assembly recom- 
mended Melville's going thither in the capacity of 
restorer. He accepted the Herculean task ; and in 
October 1574 journeyed to Glasgow from Baldovy, 
the residence of his elder brother in Angus. On 
the road he stopped for two days at Stirling, where 
he saw the young king, aged eight years. "The 
sweetest sight in Europe that day for strange and 
extraordinary gifts of ingyne, judgment, memory, 
and language.'** He also saw the kings tutor, 
George Buchanan, then engaged in writing his 
History of Scotland; and took his advice on the 
plan of education to be followed by him in Glasgow. 
As Melville had accepted the Principalship of 
the College of Glasgow under the " New Founda- 
tion," all that he was strictly required to do by the 
statutes (see above, p. 75) was to supervise discip- 
line and to lecture on the Scriptures every Sunday. 
But this was far from being his conception of the 
task before him. He had two objects in view : to 
introduce new studies into Scotland, and to train up 
a race of teachers capable of carrying them on. His 
procedure is graphically described in the Diary of 

^ See above, p. 57. Douglas in 1571 had been made "tulchan'' 
Archbishop of St Andrews, but as the Regent Morton took the rents 
of the See, Douglas naturally held to his appointment as Provost of 
St Mary's. * 

■ James Melville's Diary y p. 38. 


his nephew, James Melville, who had accompanied 
him, and who became a Regent under him after a 
year s preparation. "He set himself wholely to 
teach things not heard of in this country before, 
wherein he laboured exceeding diligently, as his 
delight was solely therein. So, falling to work with 
a small number of capable hearers, such as might be 
instructors of others afterwards, he taught them 
Greek Grammar ; the Dialectic of Ramus ; the 
Rhetoric of Talaeus, with the practice thereof in 
Greek and Latin authors : namely. Homer, Hesiod, 
Phocylides, Theognis, Pythagoras, Isocrates, Pindar, 
Virgil, Horace, Theocritus, etc From that he 
entered on the Mathematics, and taught the Elements 
of Euclid ; the Arithmetic and Geometry of Ramus ; 
the Geography of Dionysius ; the Tables of Honter, 
the Astrology of Aratus. From that to the Moral 
Philosophy : he taught the Ethics of Aristotle ; the 
O^^^^ of Cicero ; Aristotle De Virtutibus; Cicero's 
Paradoxes and Tusculans ; Aristotle's Politics^ and 
certain of Plato's Dialogues. From that to the 
Natural Philosophy: he taught the books of the 
Physics) De Orlu; De Ccelo, etc Also of Plato 
and Fernelius. With this he joined history, with 
the two lights thereof. Chronology and Chirography,^ 

* NrCrie, Life of Melville y i. p. 73, paraphrases the above passage 
in the words, " To these he added a view of Universal History, with 
Chronology and the art of Writing." How the art of writing could be 
called a " light of History " it is difficult to see. Chirograpkum in 
mediaeval Latin was a deed, diploma, or treaty. If Melville taught 
his pupils to pay attention to the terms of treaties and other public 
: documents, he certainly had a very advanced idea of the mode of 
: iudying history. An examination, however, of the MS. of James 


out of Sleidan, Manarthes, and Melanchthon. And all 
this besides and above his own ordinary province, 
the holy tongues and Theology, The name of the 
College within two years was noble throughout all 
the land and in other countries also. Students who 
had finished their course in St. Andrews came and 
entered again as scholars. And I daresay," con- 
cludes James Melville, "there was no place in 
Europe comparable to Glasgow for good letters 
during these years — for a plentiful and good cheap 
market of all kinds of languages, arts, and sciences." 
The list of subjects and authors, so vigorously 
taught by Melville, may seem stale and antiquated 
at the present day. But in reality it was full of the 
fresh breath of the Renaissance. On the one hand, 
there was the groundwork of a thorough appreciation 
of classical antiquity ; on the other hand, there was 
somewhat of the modern spirit and of the revolt 
against scholasticism. Under Melville, at the Col- 
lege of Glasgow, for the first time at any Scottish 
University, the Greek authors were studied in their 
original language. Greek had been taught more 
than twenty years previously in the school at Mon- 
trose ; but actually, when Melville returned to Scot- 
land, the Students at St. Andrews did not get any 
knowledge of it beyond the alphabet and simple 
declensions.^ Melville's nephew and pupil, James, 

Melville's Diary^ in the Advocates' Library, shows that " Chirography," 
given by the Bannatyne Club edition, should have been "Choro- 
graphy," i,e. Topography, which is commonly considered to be one of 
the eyes of History. 

* James Melville's Diary^ p. 24. 



was the first regent in any Scotch College who took 
his pupils through the Greek text of the portions of 
Aristotle which they had to read. We have seen 
above (p. 65) how much stress the Reformers placed 
on the study of Greek, and how they designed that 
every schoolboy should have four years of it before 
going to any University. But it was in Glasgow 
College that Greek was first effectively read with 
University Students ; and the example was never lost. 

Again, we find in Melville's course a mixture of 
the study of Aristotle with the revolt against him, 
as exemplified in the writings of Ramus and Talaeus. 
The modern spirit appears in his lectures on 
geography and history, with chronology and maps ; 
in the Arithmetic and Geometry of Ramus ; in the 
Natural Philosophy of Fernelius. All these were 
subjects alien from the genius of a mediaeval Uni- 
versity. Melville was bringing his pupils up to the 
newest lights of his age. 

What he took them through was evidently a four 
years* curriculum in Arts. In the first year there 
was the teaching of Humanity, including both Greek 
and Latin, with the theory of style as propounded 
in the Rhetoric of Talaeus, and this carried out in the 
study of the Greek and Roman writers. The Dia- 
lectic of Ramus was also taught, and doubtless made 
to explain the trains of reasoning in those writers. 
The second year was devoted to Mathematics, 
Cosmography, and Astronomy. The third year to 
the Moral and Political Sciences. The fourth year 
to Natural Philosophy and History. At the end of 


this Arts course there was apparently a two years* 
course in Theology, in which Melville " taught the 
Hebrew Grammar, first shortly, and afterwards 
more accurately ; thereafter the Chaldaic and Syriac 
dialects, and the practice thereof in the Psalms, and 
works of Solomon, David, Ezra, and the Epistle to 
the Galatians.^ He went through the whole com- 
monplaces of Theology very exactly and accurately ; 
also through all the Old and New Testament." 

While Andrew Melville was thus conducting, in 
his own person and by means of his varied learning, 
a course in Arts and Theology such as Scotland had 
never seen before, he lost no opportunity of con- 
ferring with kindred spirits, among the more learned 
of the Reformers, upon the theory of University 
education, with a view to improving the existing 
Universities of the country. Among the chief 
ornaments of the Scottish Kirk of those days was 
Alexander Arbuthnot, who had studied at St. 
Andrews and for five years in Paris, and who, in 
1569, had been made Principal of King's College in 
Aberdeen. Of him it is recorded^ that he was 
" pleasant and jocund in conversation, and in all 
sciences expert ; a good poet, mathematician, philo- 
sopher, theologue, lawyer, and in medicine skilful, 
so as in every subject he could promptly discourse, 
and to good purpose." Arbuthnot was a friend of 
the Melvilles, and a leader among that small section 
of the Kirk who believed in the necessity of reform- 

* That is, in the Syriac version. 
' Archbishop Spottiswood's History ^vdi ii. p. 319- 


ing education as a means of religious reformation. 
With him, after the General Assembly of 1575, 
Andrew Melville had a long consultation, during a 
journey which they made together into Angus, about 
the studies and discipline of their respective Colleges; 
'* and they agreed, as afterwards was set down in the 
new reformation of the Colleges of Glasgow and 
Aberdeen." ^ 

VII. The ideas agreed upon between Melville 
and Arbuthnot found expression in the Erectio 
Regia by James VI., dated 6th September 1577. 
This deed was probably obtained through the in- 
fluence of George Buchanan with the Regent 
Morton, who took for himself and his family a little 
sop out of the arrangement. It is written in excel- 
lent, if rather florid, Latin, worthy of the pen of 
either Melville or Buchanan. The first thing it 
does is to provide some addition to the stipends of 
the College, which indeed was most necessary ; 
though Melville, who had declined the flesh-pots of 
the Court, showed a noble disinterestedness about 
such matters. 

" Understanding," says the Erectio Regia, "that 
the annual profits and returns of the College and 
Paedagogium of Glasgow are insufficient to sus- 
tain the Principal, Masters, Regents, Bursars, and 
Officials, with the advice of our dearest cousin, 
the Regent Morton, we grant to the College the 
rectory of the parish church of Govan, with all its 

* James Melville's Diary ^ P- 41. 


revenues, lands," etc. Then the deed confirms to 
the College any Friars' lands which may have been 
previously granted to it, and gives the College power 
to collect thirds on those prebends or chaplainries 
whose incumbents are still alive. " The Principal, 
Masters, etc., to repay the service of common 
prayers for our prosperity and that of our successors." 
" Our erection and foundation is as follows : — James 
VI., by the grace of God King of Scots, to all 
Christians greeting. We have set our mind on 
collecting the remains of the University (Academiae) 
of Glasgow, which we found languishing and almost 
extinguished by poverty." Then follows a repe- 
tition of the grant of the rectory of Govan, " We 
wish twelve persons to reside in our College ; 
namely, a Gymnasiarch, three Regents, an Economus 
(or Steward), four poor Students, the Gymnasiarch*s 
Servant, a Cook, and a Janitor." These are to live 
a collegiate life, supported by the revenues of Govan, 
which amount to 24 chalders.^ The Gymnasiarch 
is to be learned in Theology, and especially in the 
Hebrew and Syriac tongues. He is to lecture at 
least one hour a day. He is to lecture alternately 
on Biblical exegesis, and on the languages of the 
original Scriptures. On Sundays he is to preach at 
Govan. He is not to go from the College any 
distance without communication with the Rector of 
the University, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, 
and the Regents, and leave granted. If absent 
three days without leave, he loses his appointment. 

' Equal, [»erhaps, to about /400. 


"In case of vacancy, the appointment will rest with 
Us and Our successors. If We or Our successors 
fail to appoint within thirty days, the election will 
rest with the Archbishop (as Chancellor), the Rector, 
the Dean of Faculty, and the Ministers of Glasgow, 
Hamilton, Cadder, Monkland, and Renfrew." Notice 
of the vacancy is to be given in Glasgow, St. 
Andrews, and Aberdeen. 

The honorarium for the Gymnasiarch (or Princi- 
pal) is to be 200 merks out of the old rental (;^30o) 
of the College. For his ministrations at Govan the 
Principal will receive three chalders (;^5o) ; the 
remaining 21 chalders sufficing for the common 
table, and expenses of the rest of the College. 

The three Regents are to be appointed by the 
Rector, the Dean of Faculty, and the Principal ; 
two of them are to receive fifty merks and the third 
;^50 per annum from the College rental. The First, 
or lowest. Regent is to teach Rhetoric out of the 
most approved authors, and Greek. The Second, 
Dialectic and Logic, with special reference to the 
works of Cicero, Plato, and Aristotle, on Morals 
and Politics. He will add the elements of Arith- 
metic and Geometry. The Third Regent is to 
teach all the Physiology and Natural Philosophy of 
Aristotle, Geography, and Astrology, and Universal 
Chronology. This Regent is to conclude the philo- 
sophical course, and enable the Students to be capped 
(pileo donari). And he is to take charge of the 
College in the absence of the Principal. 

"We do not wish,'* proceeds the Erectio Regiay 


** these three Regents, as is the custom in other 
Universities of our Kingdom, to change their subjects 
of teaching every year (professiones quotannis im- 
mutare), by which it comes to pass that while they 
profess many subjects they are found to be versed 
in few ; but we wish them each to stick to one line 
of subjects, so that the youths, as they gradually rise, 
may at each step find a teacher qualified to do justice 
to their zeal and ability. But if it be for the good of 
the College, one Regent may exchange his province 
with another, under sanction of the Principal." 

Four Bursars are to be supported out of the 
revenues of Govan. Presentation to the Bursaries 
to rest with Lord Morton and his heirs. Admission 
to rest with the Principal, who is to keep out rich 
and idle persons from the Bursaries. Bursars are 
to enter on the i st October, and to remain in College 
three and a half years. 

" We hope that Students will flow in great num- 
bers to our College from all parts of the Kingdom." 
But no one is to be admitted without making Pro- 
fession of Faith as approved by Parliament. And 
each Master and Student is to repeat this Profession 
at least once a year. Finally, ** we wish our College 
and University of Glasgow to enjoy all immunities 
and privileges conceded by our ancestors or our- 
selves to any University in the Kingdom." Among 
the witnesses to this document appears " Our dear 
Privy Councillor, George Buchanan, Pensioner of 
Crossraguel, and Keeper of our privy seal." The 
date is, '* Dalkeith, 13th July 1577." 


It Will be observed that the Erectio Regia 
eliminates the Town Council of Glasgow from all 
connection with the College, and takes from them 
the not excessive powers which they had assumed 
in their " New Foundation " of 1573. The patron- 
age of the Principalship is transferred to the Crown, 
and that of the Bursaries to the family of Lord 
Morton. But the most striking point about the 
charter is its vagueness and uncertainty in regard to 
the effect which it is to have upon the constitution 
of the University of Glasgow. It is called " Erectio 
Regia," but we are not told of what. The King 
says that he " wishes to collect the remnants of the 
University (Academise), but the whole deed merely 
goes to a new setting up of the College. Again 
the word Academue is used in one place evidently to 
mean the University; in another place, in para- 
phrase with the word Gymnasium^ to mean the 
College. And at last it appears that the College 
is the University, or at all events a University, for 
the King grants or renews privileges to " Nostrum 
hoc Collegium et Academiam Glasguensem," "just 
as securely as if they had accrued to it (acsi illi 
obvenissent) before the memory of man." The 
deed does not say " accrued to theml^ as making 
the College and the University of Glasgow separate 
institutions, but it says "to itl' thus identifying the 
College with the University. 

No doubt those who drew this charter thought of 
the College under Melville as the one living reality, 
the one centre of teaching, which survived or had 


Sprung up out of the ruins of the University. This 
was to be fostered, and, in accordance with the ideas 
of the Book of Discipline^ to constitute a Faculty of 
Arts within itself. Implicitly, the Erectio Regia 
gives the College the power of conferring degrees ; 
it says that by the labours of the Third Regent the 
Students are to be finished and capped ; and it lays 
down three and a half years as the most suitable 
time, "judging from the practice of the other Univer- 
sities of our realm," to be given to the course for 
graduation in philosophy. Thus the rules for gradu- 
ation are not left to the determination of any ex- 
ternal " University of Glasgow." The College itself 
is the University, or a University, it matters not 
which. At the same time, with careless inconsistency, 
the great officers of the University are recognised, 
and even have functions in relation to the College 
assigned to them — the Chancellor, the Rector, and 
the Dean of the Faculty of Arts. No provision 
was made for their future election, for the Erectio 
Regia did not legislate for the old University of 
Glasgow, but only for the College. It left the old 
University to shift for itself, but put the College in 
the way of supplanting the University and absorbing 
all its functions, which in reality it ultimately did. 
And this charter gave the model after which the other 
Universities of Scotland were transformed and lost 
their grandiose mediaeval character. Through the 
loss of church livings which had been held by their 
officers, they fell into destitution, and then the Re- 
formers brought the Colleges into prominence, and 


the old University institutions dwindled away, though 
some of them continued to subsist, or else were 
revived, as integral parts of the Colleges themselves. 

VI I L The conference of Melville with Arbuth- 
not produced not only the Erectio Regta for 
Glasgow, but also the Fundatio Nova of Kings 
College, Aberdeen. This was a scheme drawn up 
on the same lines as those of the Glasgow charter. 
It abolished not only the Professor of Canon Law 
in King's College (which was natural after the 
Reformation), but also the Reader in Medicine, — 
thus restricting the teaching in Aberdeen to Arts, 
Civil Law, and Theology, just as had been planned in 
the Book of Discipline. It also contained the same 
clause as that in the Erectio Regia against Regents 
taking their pupils through the whole course of philo- 
sophy. Cosmo Innes says^ that " it went to break 
down all the usages and feelings of a University, 
setting up a teaching institution in its place." This 
may be true; but the question is whether, in the 
general disintegration of the Universities, to set up 
teaching institutions was not the best thing that the 
Reformers could do — provided always that the 
teaching was sufficiently high. 

But the "remnants" of the old University were 
much stronger in Aberdeen than they had been in 
Glasgow. The Fundatio Nova was long and 
successfully resisted, and Principal Arbuthnot, who 
died in 1583, never saw it carried out. An Act of 

* Sketches of Early Scotch History y p. 285. 


Parliament of 1597 ratifies the document, but at the 
same time speaks of it as " to be revised." Hence 
some think that it never became law. But M'Crie 
says that "though its legal ratification cannot be 
proved, there is no doubt that it was acted upon for 
many years." 

IX. Another learned and congenial friend of 
Andrew Melville's was Thomas Smeton, who had 
been Regent in St. Salvator's ; at the Reformation 
had gone to France and attached himself to the 
Jesuits; afterwards had been gradually turned to Pro- 
testantism by the conversations of persons confined 
for heresy in the prisons of the Inquisition, and to 
whom he had access ; narrowly escaped the massacre 
of St Bartholomew ; and got back to Scotland in 
1577, where he was made Vicar of Paisley, and soon 
after Dean of Faculty in the University of Glasgow. 
" Mr. Andrew and he, marvellously conspiring in 
purposes and judgments, were the first motioners of 
an anti-seminary to be erected in St. Andrews, to 
the Jesuit seminaries, and ceased never at assem- 
blies and Court till that work was begun and set 

Thus at last, from the interest felt in a proposal 
for checkmating the Jesuits, something was done, 
after sixteen years' delay (see above, p. 68), for the 
improvement of the University of St. Andrews. A 
Commission was appointed in 1 579, of which Buch- 
anan was a member, to draw up a scheme, which in 

^ James Melville's Diary, p. 58. 



the same year was presented to Parliament and rati- 
fied. This scheme is often called Buchanan's, but 
it was chiefly the work of Melville. Its main outline 
is as follows : — 

St Salvator's was to have a Principal and four 
Regents, for whom the course of teaching prescribed 
was almost precisely the same as that laid down for 
three Regents in the Erectto Regia: the work of 
the First Regent at Glasgow being divided between 
the First and Second Regents in St. Salvator s. 
The same rule was laid down that each Regent was 
to retain his own separate department of teaching. 
But there were to be also in St. Salvator's a Profes- 
sor of Mathematics and a Professor of Law,^ each 
to lecture four days a week. The lectures on Law 
were to be attended by the Advocates and Writers 
of the Commissary Court. The peculiarity was 
added that the Principal of St. Salvator's was to act 
as Professor of Medicine. 

For St. Leonard's College the same arrange- 
ments were prescribed as for St Salvator's, minus 
the lectures in Mathematics and Law, and with the 
variation that the Principal, instead of teaching 
Medicine, was to read Plato to the Students. 

Thus St. Salvator's was constituted a College in 
Arts, Law, and Medicine ; St Leonard's a College 
in Arts alone, with the introduction of Plato as a 
supplement and a counterpoise to exclusive Aris- 

* The addition of two Professors and a Fourth Regent was doubt- 
less due to the richer endowments of St. Salvator's, as compared with 
the impoverished condition of the Psedagogium of Glasgow. 


totelianism. And now we come to the College of 
Theology, that " anti-seminary to the Jesuits" in 
which Melville and his coadjutors were so much 
interested. St Mary's, or " New College," was, of 
course, to be remodelled in this capacity. Accord- 
ing to the scheme it was to have five Professors : — 

The first to teach Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac 
in a course of one year. 

The second, the application of these languages 
in critical explanation of the Historical books 
of the Old Testament, during one year and a 

The third the same, with regard to the Prophet- 
ical books, for one year and a half. 

The fourth, throughout the four years of the 
Students' course, to teach them to compare 
the Greek Testament with the Syriac version. 

The fifth, who was also to be Principal, to lecture 
on commonplaces, i.e. Systematic Divinity. 

One cannot fail to be struck by the thorough- 
ness of the training here laid down. If Protestant- 
ism was to be based on the Bible, before all things 
it was necessary to know what the Bible really said, 
which knowledge could only be acquired by a scien- 
tific linguistic study of the actual texts. And this 
was what St. Mary's College was to provide. The 
programme reflected the mind of Melville, who had 
made profound Oriental studies under Cornelius 
Bertram, the professor of Hebrew at Geneva, and 
had learnt from him to compare the New Testa- 


ment with the Syriac version. We miss, however, 
one weapon against the Jesuits, with which the 
projected armoury of St. Mary's should have been 
supplied — namely, the study of Church history, 
which seems to have been wholly omitted in the 

But alas ! what had been so well planned, though 
ratified by Parliament, was most imperfectly carried 
out. The new mode of study was only partially 
adopted in St. Salvator s and St. Leonard's, and St 
Mary's never received the proposed number of Pro- 
fessors. There was steady interested opposition to 
Melville's enlightened measures ; and at last the 
Scottish Parliament of 162 1, on the preamble that 
" the alteration and change which has been made on 
the first foundations of the Colleges within the Uni- 
versity of St. Andrews have bred uncertainty in 
professions of sciences," etc., altogether repealed the 
Ratification of 1579, and restored *'the first founda- 
tions of the said Colleges." 

Thus it was not by the rude nobility of Scotland 
alone that the best ideas of the Reformers were 
treated as " devout imaginations ;" it was not only 
the adequate endowment of the Kirk, the setting up 
high schools throughout the land, and other plans 
requiring grants of money, that met with opposition. 
Proposals for the reform of the Universities by the 
redistribution of existing endowments, and the intro- 
duction of higher and more thorough courses of 
study, were opposed, and successfully opposed, 
within the Universities themselves. In Aberdeen 


and St. Andrews the wise counsels of Buchanan, 
Melville, Arbuthnot, and Smeton, were set at naught. 

It is true that, within the College of Glasgow, 
Andrew Melville had hitherto been able to carry 
out his ideas ; and it seems a misfortune for Scot- 
land, not only in respect of higher learning, but also 
of Church politics, that he was not allowed to remain 
at a post where he had been so brilliantly success- 
ful. Had he remained for twenty years Principal of 
the College of Glasgow, he might have consolidated 
a model school of Arts and Theology, and he might 
possibly have avoided embittering ecclesiastical con- 
troversy in a way which did harm to the country. 
But the General Assembly would not let him rest. 
In October 1580, "Mr. Andrew Melville, sore 
against his will, was decreed and ordained to tran- 
sport himself from Glasgow to St. Andrews, to begin 
the work of Theology there, with such as he thought 
meet to take with him for that effect, conformably to 
the late reformation of that University ; whereupon 
compulsators of horning^ passed out against him, and 
Mr. Thomas Smeton was ordained to be placed in 
the College of Glasgow in his room." 

It is not to our purpose to follow the career of 
Andrew Melville any farther. He had given in 
Glasgow practical demonstration of what could be 
done for Scotland in the way of high teaching ; and 
he had in vain proposed measures by which similar 
results might have been attained in St. Andrews 
and Aberdeen. Whether this teaching was to be 

^ ue. Orders of the Court of Session under pain of outlawry. 


called "College teaching" or " University teaching" 
matters little, it seems to be a mere affair of words. 
Some writers blame the legislation of the Reformers 
for destroying ancient University forms, and thus 
degrading the Universities theniselves ; but the real 
misfortune was that the aspirations of the Reformers 
as to substantial improvement of teaching, and the 
introduction of a more solid learning, were not 
suffered to become effective. As a matter of fact 
the Reformers did not repeal or destroy any Uni- 
versity forms ; their novce fundationes consisted in 
the reorganisation of particular Colleges, while the 
Universities in which those Colleges existed were left 
untouched ; and, as we have seen, in 1619 and 1621 
respectively the nova fundationes for both Aberdeen 
and St. Andrews were swept away by Parliament, 
and the original constitutions of the Colleges were 
restored. But the Universities, as distinct from the 
Colleges, had no vitality or spring of life in them- 
selves. Therefore, from the Reformation onwards, 
in St Andrews, Aberdeen, and Glasgow, the 
Colleges took the place of the ancient Universities, 
and the University of Edinburgh was founded, from 
the outset, in the form of a College. 




" Cauld blew the bitter biting North 
Upon thy early, humble birth ; 
Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth 

Amid the storm, 
Scarce rear'd above the parent earth 

Thy tender form." 

Sufficient obscurity hangs over the steps which led 
to the origination of the University of Edinburgh to 
have left room for the play of fancy, and for a sort 
of kaleidoscopic treatment of the fragments of fact 
which have come down to us. Thus Bower {Hist, 
Ed, Un. i. 69) gives a consistent and pleasing 
narrative, to the effect that Reid, Bishop of Orkney, 
having bequeathed 8000 merks **to the town of 
Edinburgh for the purpose of erecting a University 
within the city," the Magistrates, **on the faith of 
speedily obtaining" this bequest, proposed the founda- 
tion of a College in 1561, and **in 1563 purchased 
part of the ground upon which the College at present 
stands;" and that ** three years afterwards the un- 
fortunate and susceptible Mary, whose generosity 
was unbounded, her love of learning sincere, and her 

VOL. I. H 


proficiency considerable, entered warmly into the 
same views, and endowed with revenues the institu- 
tion which she was so anxious to patronise." 

This account, so consecutively put together, is 
calculated to lend dignity to the University by 
representing a Bishop and a Queen as the chief 
authors of its existence. But unfortunately every 
clause in the statement is erroneous. Reid had 
never any idea of founding a University ; nor did he 
leave any money ** to the town " of Edinburgh. He 
bequeathed 8000 merks in trust to three friends of 
his own, for the purpose of setting up a particular 
kind of College in Arts and Law, on a site which he 
specified to the south of Edinburgh. The Town 
Council had no direct interest in Reid's will, and 
there is no indication that they were encouraged or 
influenced in any way by a knowledge of the bequest, 
or by an expectation of its being paid. On the con- 
trary, all their records seem to show that they acted, 
in their endeavours to supply the educational wants 
of Edinburgh, quite irrespectively of Reid and his 
bequest. Craufurd, who was almost a contemporary 
writer, and who in his Memoirs relates vividly in his 
own way the origin of the University, says not a 
word about Reid as being connected with its founda- 
tion. Ultimately a fraction of Bishop Reid*s be- 
quest came into the hands of the Town Council, 
after they had got their charter and begun building 
their College ; and it was by them employed in aid 
of the building. Bishop Reid then, though we 
cannot recognise him among the Founders of the 


University, became, incidentally and de facto, its 
earliest benefactor. As such we shall endeavour in 
an Appendix to pay him honour due.^ 

Mary Queen of Scots, on the other hand, cannot 
be acknowledged as either a founder or a benefactor 
of the University of Edinburgh. Whether the 
epithets lavished on her by Bower were deserved or 
not, at all events her charter of March 1566-67, of 
which some account has previously been given 
(pp. 70-73) had no reference to any educational 
purpose. It simply gave the monastic property, 
under certain restrictions, for the support of the 
Ministers and the poor of Edinburgh. Nor is there 
the smallest reason for believing that Mary Stuart 
felt any desire to see a Protestant College or Uni- 
versity created within her Capital. 

Dispensing, then, with these great and graceful 
names, the University of Edinburgh must be content 
with her actual promoters and founders, the Town 
Council and the Ministers of the City. So far as the 
Records inform us, the Town Council appear, from 
1 56 1 to 1578, to have made constant efforts for the 
establishment and endowment of a seat of learning ; 
and after that the Ministry became prominent in a 
final struggle to get this work accomplished, in spite 
of obstacles. 

On the 23d April 1561 a set of ** Articles for 
the common policy of the Burgh*' (probably the 
work of a committee) was laid before the Town 
Council, and approved by them. The first of these 

* Appendix A. Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney. 


was a resolution that ** the rents, annuals, and other 
emoluments, which before were paid out of lands 
and tenements within this Burgh to papists, priests, 
friars, monks, nuns, and others of that wicked sort, 
for maintaining of idolatry and vain superstition," 
should '' be applied to more profitable and godly uses, 
such as for sustaining of the true Ministers of God's 
Word, founding and building of Hospitals for the 
poor, and Colleges for learning and upbringing of 
the youth, and other such godly works." 

Following up these views, they resolved a year 
later (April 1562) to write to Lord James Stuart 
(afterwards Regent Murray), asking him to use his 
influence with Queen Mary, ** to grant to the Town 
the place, yards, and annuals of the Friars and 
altarages of the Kirk, for maintenance of the 
Grammar School, as also for the Regents of a Col- 
lege to be built within this Burgh." 

In August of the same year they explicitly 
petitioned the Queen to grant them the grounds of 
the Blackfriars for an almshouse, the yards of the 
Greyfriars for a burial-ground, and the site of the 
Kirk-of-Field **to build a School."^ To this peti- 
tion the Queen promptly replied : granting them 
the Greyfriars' yard for the purpose named, and 
promising that ** whenever sufficient provision is 
made for building the hospital and school, Her 
Grace shall provide convenient sites for them and 

* The Town Council were as yet undefined in their educational 
schemes. They had destined the site of the Kirk-of-Field to educa- 
tional purposes, but at first only proposed generally to build "a 
School there." 


endowments for their future support." Thus Mary 
staved off for the time conceding the monastic 
revenues and the site of Kirk-of-Field. 

The Provost of that Collegiate Church, one John 
Penicuik, was still holding on to the ruined fabric of 
a once splendid establishment.^ And he, being 
minded to save something out of the fire — like 
those other persons afterwards denounced in Mary's 
Charter (p. 72) who ** fraudulently alienated lands 
and benefices" — was willing to negotiate for the 
sale of all the ground, buildings, and revenues of 
the Kirk-of-Field for the paltry sum of ;^ 1000 Scots. 
The Town Council, in June 1563, agreed to pur- 
chase on these terms. This was the transaction 
referred to by Bower in the passage quoted from 
him above ; but the purchase was by no means 
settled and concluded. On the one hand, Provost 
Penicuik was to obtain the Queen's sanction for 
transferring to the Town all the rights of his Pro- 
vostry. On the other hand, the Town Council 
were so short of funds that all they could engage 
was that, after Penicuik should have fulfilled his part 
of the agreement, they would find security for the 
payment, within two years, of the thousand pounds. 

Under these circumstances it is no wonder if 
there was a hitch in the business. Penicuik may 
have been put off by the Queen in his request for 
her sanction to the arrangement, or he may have 
disliked the long term of payment named by the 
Town Council. At all events, we find from the 

* See Appendix B. Kirk-of-Field. 


City Register, under date 9th August 1564, that 
Provost Penicuik ** is taking down the stonework of 
the Kirk-of-Field, and is of mind to sell the same " 
to other parties, ** which the Council find most 
necessary to be bought for the good town, either for 
the Hospital or for a University to be made in the 
said Kirk-of-Field." The Council at once appointed 
** their assessor'* to make final end with the said 
parson, touching the whole stones and all other 
things pertaining to the said parson by reason of his 
Provostry. And on the 25 th of the same month 
they ratified the Act and Ordinance made between 
the good town and Provost Penicuik, touching the 
Kirk-of-Field, and ordained the arrangement to be 
concluded with all diligence. This is the last that 
we hear of the matter ; the Town Council Records 
are very capricious and uncertain, yet had there 
been in 1564 a payment of the thousand pounds 
stipulated for, and a handing over to the town of 
buildings and ecclesiastical rights, it seems probable 
that there would have been some mention of the 
various business transactions that would have ensued. 
On the whole, it appears most likely that the Town 
Council never paid anything to Provost Penicuik 
for the site of the Kirk-of-Field. One interesting 
fact emerges from their Minutes on the subject, 
namely, that in 1564 they had got so far in their 
ideas as to speak of ** making a University.'* They 
had, however, to wait for more than nineteen years 
before this aspiration was in any way realised. 

Whether Penicuik had died or resigned his Pro- 


vostry is not known ; but at the date of Darnley s 
murder, on the 9th February 1566-67, Robert Balfour, 
brother of the notorious Sir James Balfour of Pettin- 
dreich, was Provost of the Kirk-of-Field. Thus the 
buildings and revenues of the establishment had 
evidently not been taken over by the Town Council, 
in consequence of any bargain with Penicuik ; and 
Queen Mary, so far from being zealous to grant the 
site and what was attached to it, for the erection of 
a College, had put in a new Provost. But five weeks 
later — under pressure, as we may surmise — she 
granted her charter, conveying the Kirk-of-Field 
and all other monastic property in Edinburgh to the 
Town Council for the support of Protestant ministers 
and the poor. Yet still she inserted the clause that 
present incumbents were to have a liferent of their 
benefices. And this clause, doubtless, took back 
half the benefits of the charter, and mocked the 
honest purpose of the Town Council. 

Robert Balfour continued to hold office as Provost 
of the Kirk-of-Field till November 1579, when he 
was forfeited by Parliament, along with other persons 
who had been accessory to the murder of Darnley. 
Even then the Town Council could not get posses- 
sion of what the Queen's charter had granted them. 
For the Provostry, still regarded as a place in the 
gift of the Crown, though no longer as an ecclesi- 
astical appointment, was bestowed on John Gib, 
"one of the Valets of His Highness' (the young 
Kings) chamber." And him the Council had sub- 
sequently to buy out. 


Not only had royal apathy to be contended with, 
but there were also other opposing influences, making 
themselves felt at Court and in Parliament. Crau- 
furd opens his vivid Memoirs relating to the early 
history of the University by stating that ** after the 
Reformation of Religion was established in Scotland, 
the City of Edinburgh and Ministry thereof were 
very earnest and zealous for the promoting of learn- 
ing — their great intention being to have an University 
founded in the city ; but the three Universities of 
St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Old Aberdeen, by the 
power of the Bishops, still bearing some sway in the 
Kirk, and more in the State, did let their enterprize." 
The particular circumstances of this opposition seem 
now to be lost, but several writers repeat Craufurd*s 
statement that the Bishops who were Chancellors of 
the three old Universities set themselves against the 
erection of a rival institution in Edinburgh. And 
King James I. of England (as he then was) in 161 7 
corroborated this opinion by saying: ** After the 
founding of it {i.e. the College of Edinburgh) had 
been stopped for sundry years in my minority, so 
soon as I came to any knowledge I zealously held 
hand to it."^ King James thus took the credit to 
himself of putting an end to the opposition. But it 
is generally agreed that the temporary fall of Epis- 
copacy in Scotland gave the Town Council and 
Ministers of Edinburgh the opportunity, which they 
had so long desired, of founding a seat of learning. 

The leading spirit in this movement, and the 
1 See Appendix C. Disputation at Stirling. 

1579.] JAMES LAWSON. 105 

man to whom, above all others, the foundation of 
the University of Edinburgh is due, was James 
Lawson, "who for gifts and estimation was chief 
among the Ministry"^ of Scotland. Lawson was a 
man of culture and experience, as well as of piety 
and earnestness. He had been educated gratuitously 
by Andrew Simpson, the celebrated master of the 
school at Perth ; and in 1559 he became the fellow- 
student of Andrew Melville at St. Andrews. After- 
wards he travelled on the Continent as tutor to the 
young Earl of Crawford. In 1568 he was appointed 
to teach Hebrew in the New College of St. Andrews ; 
and in 1569, after the "purging" of the University 
of Aberdeen, he was promoted to be Sub-Principal 
of King's College under Arbuthnot. In 1572 he 
received the greatest honour which could then be 
conferred upon a Minister of the Reformed Church, 
being called to succeed John Knox as chief Minister 
of Edinburgh. James Melville speaks of him as "a 
man of singular learning, zeal, and eloquence, whom 
I never heard preach but he melted my heart with 
tears." Such was James Lawson, and with him 
were associated in his educational schemes Walter 
Balcanquall,^ another City Minister ; William Little, 
afterwards Provost; and his brother Clement Little, 
an Advocate and one of the Commissaries of Edin- 
burgh ; also Henry Charteris, a printer of good 

* James Melville*s Diary ^ p. 146. 

• Father of the more celebrated Dr. Walter Balcanquall, who 
became Master of the Savoy and Dean of Rochester ; and who was 
George Heriot*s Executor. 


In the meantime the battle of Bishops or no 
Bishops for Scotland ? was being stoutly waged in 
the Assembly, with varying issues. In 1576 Bishops 
were called upon to take pastoral charge of con- 
gregations. In 1578 the tide ran against them 
so hard that they were deprived of their titles of 
honour.^ And in that year, perhaps encouraged by 
the state of public feeling, Lawson pressed on the 
Town Council till he got them to erect a new building 
for the High School of Edinburgh in the garden of 
the Blackfriars, which had come into their possession 
by Mary's charter. He had " some intention," says 
Craufurd, **if no more could be obtained, at least to 
make it Scholam illustrem, with Profession of Logic 
and the parts of Philosophy in private classes." 

But he did not rest satisfied with measures for 
the improvement of the High School, as may be 
seen from an Act of the Town Council in April 
1579, which ordained certain parties **to convene 
themselves in the Ministers' Lodging,^ on the 
morrow, by four o'clock of the afternoon, for taking 
order concerning the foundation of a University." 
But it looks as if there had been some wavering at 
this time in the ideas of Lawson and his coadjutors, 

* The honorary titles of Bishops were regarded with democratic 
jealousy by the Reformers. One of them wittily said that there were 
three sorts of Bishops : my Lord Bishop, my Lord's Bishop, and the 
Lord's Bishop. " My Lord Bishop was in the papistry ; my Lord's 
Bishop is now " (/>. a " tulchan Bishop ") " when my Lord gets the 
benefice, and the Bishop serves for nothing but to make his title sure ; 
and the Lord's Bishop is the true minister of the gospel." — James 
Melville's Diary^ p. 25. 

* The Ministers' Lodging, or quarters, was a building on the site 
of what is now the Parliament House. 


for we find another Act in December 1579, by which 
the Council appointed the Provost and others **to 
pass and speak with Mr. Robert King and Mr. 
James Lawson, Ministers, for their counsel to be had 
concerning the erection of a College of Theology, and 
report." In the next year, 1580, the anti-episcopal 
party were still more triumphant ; for at the General 
Assembly held at Dundee, of which Lawson himself 
was Moderator, "the pretended office of bishop" 
was declared to be unlawful, and **all such persons 
as bore the said office were ordered to demit the 
same." " The time being favourable was well plied 
by the Ministers and citizens of Edinburgh," says 
Craufurd, "so that having obtained a gift of a 
University within the city, in the beginning of this 
year (1581) they purchased from John Gib and John 
Fenton, servants to the King, their right of the 
Kirk-of-Field, to be a place for the situation of the 
intended College." 

These words of Craufurd*s have a peculiar signifi- 
cance, and, taken in conjunction with other expres- 
sions which occur in the City Records, they suggest 
a very strange point at the outset of this history, 
namely, a suspicion that the very document from 
which the whole narrative should have started — the 
original charter for the foundation of the College of 
Edinburgh — has been lost. 

This idea, on the first mention of it, will appear 
to many persons to be, not only a paradox, but an 
impossibility. We find no reference made to the 
supposed missing document later than April 1584; 



the charter of James VI., dated 14th April, 1582, 
has always been regarded as the charter of the 
College, and as such it was apparently ratified by 
the Act of Parliament of 1621 ; the question as to 
the constitution of the College, and the powers of 
the Town Council in reference to it, has been made 
the subject of repeated inquiries, and of at least two 
great lawsuits, but throughout all these it never 
occurred to any one that there could have been any 
other charter of foundation beyond that above 
mentioned ; to this alone (with the ratifying Act of 
162 1 ) Sir James Stewart, the Lord Advocate in 1 703, 
Mr. Thomas Thomson, the antiquarian lawyer who 
was counsel to the Senatus Academicus in their law- 
suit of 1826, and the great lawyers in the case 
which went before the House of Lords in 1854 — 
were content to appeal. And the Royal Commis- 
sioners, who, in the most searching manner, inquired 
into the history and affairs of the University from 
1826 to 1830, never dreamt that at one time there 
may have existed a document, now lost, which would 
have been more valuable and interesting than those 
presented to them. Neither in the Inventories of 
Deeds in the City Office, nor in those of the Register 
House, is there any mention of such a missing 

All these things together constitute, it must be 
admitted, a formidable presumption against the pos- 
sibility of what has been above suggested. But, on 
the other hand, there are expressions in the City 
Records which can only be explained as referring to 


some document which no longer exists. Craufurd 
implies that ** a gift of a University within the city " 
was obtained in 1580.^ No stress need be laid upon 
the word ** University," because Craufurd, honoris 
causa^ generally applies this term to the College of 
Edinburgh; the "gift of a University" therefore 
corresponds with what the Town Council in their 
Records call the "gift of erection of a College," that 
is, the grant under Royal sign-manual of powers to 
found a College. According to Craufurd, who is 
trustworthy in such matters, this grant was either 
made or promised, probably the latter, in 1580. 

The next step occurred on the 14th April 1582, 
when James VI. at Stirling gave his sign-manual 
for the charter which has subsequently been con- 
sidered to have been the charter for the foundation 
of the College of Edinburgh. But it does not natur- 
ally answer that description. It is a ratification of 
Queen Marys charter (1566) granting to the town 
the monastic properties, and it allows these to be 
applied to educational purposes, which Mary s charter 
had not done. It makes no mention of either 
** College " or " University," but gives quite general 

* He says that it was after they had obtained a gift of a University 
that the Town Council purchased from Gib and Fenton their right to 
the Kirk-of-Field. But the City Records tell us that it was on the 
30th March 1581, that is to say, in the first week of the new year (old 
style) that the Treasurer was authorised "to content John Gib with 
300 merks on condition that he renounces his pretended provostry." 
And it is mentioned at the same time that the King's sanction to this 
bargain had previously been obtained. All this would take time, so 
that it must have been at some period during 1580 (old style) that the 
Royal consent to the founding of a University or College had been 


powers to the Town Council to build houses for Pro- 
fessors of Languages and Science, and to appoint and 
remove Professors, and it specially ratifies the pur- 
chase by the town of John Gib's right to the Provostry 
of the Kirk-of-Field. Had this charter stood by itself 
we should have said that it gave the Town Council 
surprisingly large powers of founding Colleges, without 
express authorisation to found a College, and without 
any definition of the character which any College to 
be founded by them should assume. But there are 
indications leading to the belief that there must have 
been another charter besides this. 

On the 1 8th April 1582 the Town Council **find 
that the Treasurer had disbursed the necessary 
expenses of the Lord Provost and others who 
passed lately to Stirling to the King," inter alia, 
" for obtaining tJu signatures passed concerning the 
foundation of a College.'' Here we have the word 
** signatures" in the plural. ** Signature" was the 
regular legal term to denote a charter in its first 
stage, being a vernacular writ with the sign-manual 
subscribed or superscribed. Having thus received 
the royal sanction, it became the warrant to the 
Keeper of the Signet to direct to the Keeper of the 
Privy Seal a precept (written in Latin and embody- 
ing a translation of the " Signature ") requiring him 
to issue a precept in like form to the Keeper of the 
Great Seal for expeding a charter in terms thereof. 
This (which was the precept recorded in the Privy 
Seal Register) became in turn the warrant to the 
Director of Chancery to extend a charter of the same 


tenor, in full form, and to complete it by the append- 
ing of the Great Seal. What the deputation of the 
Town Council went to seek at Stirling was charters 
(not a charter) in their first stage "concerning the 
foundation of a College." And these we must con- 
jecture to have beenyfr^/, the "gift of erection of a 
College " promised in 1580; second, the charter (which 
we possess) ratifying to the town Mary's grant of 
Church property and their own recent purchase of 
the Provostry of Kirk-of- Field, and also giving large 
powers of educational administration. 

Nearly a year passed away without the Town 
Council apparently having taken any step towards 
the foundation of their College, but we learn from the 
City Records that on the 29th March 1583 "the 
Provost, Bailies, Council, and Deacons, understand- 
ing that if they enter not to work in founding and 
building of a College for letters in the Kirk-of-Field 
with diligence, the gift granted by the Kings 
Majesty to the good town will expire the i ^th April 
next ; therefore appoint Andrew Sclater, bailie, and 
David Kinloch, baxter, to agree with certain work- 
men for the building of the outer walls thereof," etc. 

And on the 28th June 1583 (after mention of an 
assessment to be made on the town towards payment 
of the King's debts) it is added : " And so foreseeing 
that the work of the College at the Kirk-of-Field 
new begun is liable to leave off and decay, and so 
tlie gift of the erection thereof shall expire by virtue 
of the clause irritant contained therein, without the 
same be supported by the good town by the sums 


given thereto ; for which causes, to wit, for payment 
of their part of the said extent {i.e. assessment) and 
support of the said work, they have agreed and con- 
sented that a general extent of 3000 merks be set 
and uplifted from the whole burgh and inhabitants 

From these Minutes we get intimation of certain 
conditions, of which otherwise we should have known 
nothing, attached to the grant made to the Town 
Council of powers to found a College. And we find 
it expressly recorded in terms which nothing can 
set aside that there was in "the gift of erection," 
that is, in the deed conveying these powers, a 
** clause irritant " or clause of forfeiture, by virtue of 
which the "gift would expire," and the privilege of 
founding a College be lost unless a definite condition 
of time were complied with. The clause irritant 
declared that the work must be begun by the 15th 
April 1583, else the gift would lapse. This clearly 
points back to the 14th April 1582, on which date 
James VI.'s charter, which we possess, was signed. 
But in that charter there is no ** clause of irritancy," 
and no restriction of time ; on the contrary, that 
charter granted liberty in general terms to the Town 
Council and their successors, of building and repair- 
ing houses for the reception of Professors, etc. From 
which it follows that on the same day (14th April 
1582) another charter must have been signed, grant- 
ing the Town Council definite powers of founding a 
College, provided they began the work within a 


The reason why the Town Council were back- 
ward in commencing the building of their College, 
after being so urgent in obtaining permission to 
found it, was evidently the want of funds. The gift 
of erection which was made, or promised, in 1580 
probably contained no provision for endowments of 
any kind. The deputation of the Lord Provost 
and Bailies above mentioned went to Stirling to 
negotiate for concessions which might be subsidiary 
to the bare privilege of founding a College, and 
might give means for carrying it out. At this time 
they urged a claim to be put in place of Bishop 
Reid s trustees, and this was accorded to them by an 
Act of the Privy Council on the 12th April 1582 
(see Appendix A). They probably also pointed out 
that under Queen Mary s charter they had no power 
of using the monastic sites and revenues for educa- 
tional purposes, and hence James's charter of 14th 
April 1582 was conceded to them, of which the 
main point was to give them free use of the site of 
Kirk-of-Field, but into which also they seem to have 
adroitly obtained the insertion of clauses giving them 
unbounded powers over the higher education of 
Edinburgh. The well-known charter of James VI. 
was, according to this view, not the Charter of the 
Foundation of the College, but was subsidiary to it.^ 
The Charter of Foundation, with a quite definite 

^ It has been pointed out as an objection to the above hypothesis 
that it would be unusual for the one charter to be subsidiary to the 
other, and yet make no reference to the other. This is a difficulty, 
but it seems impossible to find a theory of this obscure matter that 
shall be free from difficulties. 

VOL. I. I 


scope, and containing, as we have seen, a clause of 
forfeiture, probably became a " Signature " or charter 
in its first stage, on the same day as' the other, the 
14th April 1582. 

The deputation then doubtless considered that 
they had been very successful in what they had 
achieved at Stirling. None of Reid s money, how- 
ever, came in for more than a year ; it was not till 
July 1583 that they got an instalment of 700 merks 
out of his bequest (see Appendix A). The site of 
the Kirk-of-Field was now quite at their disposal, 
but for want of funds they were still delaying their 
building operations, when in March 1583 they were 
reminded of the clause irritant by which the powers 
granted to them would lapse in little more than a 
fortnight unless they set to work. The " Signatures" 
in the meantime had gone to the Signet Office, and, 
as often happened, there was great delay in turning 
them into charters. The Town Council therefore, 
not having the documents before them, used the 
phrase ''understanding that if they enter not to 
work," etc. — implying that they had received an oral 
reminder of the terms of the clause irritant. They 
at once proceeded to take action, and saved them- 
selves from forfeiture by beginning to wall in the 
buildings in which they proposed to locate their 
College. And on the 28th June following they 
resolved to assess the town for 3000 merks, of which 
a portion (perhaps 1000 merks) was to be available 
towards going on with the ** new begun " College. 

Under date the 14th September 1583, we find 


another indication of a missing charter, for on that 
day they contract with RoUock, that **he shall enter 
to the College newly founded within the said Burgh 
for instruction of youth and professing of good 
learning, as the erection and foundation bears." 
This is evidently meant for a quotation from the 
Charter of Foundation, but no such words occur in 
the existent charter of James VI. 

The Town Council had not as yet paid the fees 
exigible on the charters which had been granted to 
them, but on the 4th October 1583 they proceeded 
to do so ; and we find it recorded that ** the Treasurer 
is appointed to deliver the sum of ;^ 1 1 to be given 
for out-redding of the two privy seals, one of the letter 
of the erection of the College, and one of a letter con- 
cerning the Provostry of the Kirk-of-field^ And by 
the 4th December 1583 all the forms had been gone 
through, and, as the City Record says : " Two charters 
were produced made to the good town under the 
Great Seal, the one of the foundation of the College, 
the other of the Kirk anntials'' The whole narrative, 
then, is coherent ; the ** Signatures " granted on the 
14th April 1582 had now reached the Town 
Council in the form of two charters under the Great 
Seal ; of these the one which they call the charter 
"concerning the Provostry of the Kirk-of-field," or 
the charter **of the Kirk annuals,'* corresponds very 
well with the existent charter of James VI. The 
other charter — that **of the foundation of the College" 
— has gone amissing. 

Once subsequently, and only once, the lost 


charter has been referred to ; and that was a few 
months later, in another charter of James VI. (4th 
April 1584) granting the teinds of Currie towards 
the maintenance of the College of Edinburgh. 
Whereof the preamble is : " Some time since we 
gave and conceded to the said Provost, Bailies, 
Councillors, and the Community, the liberty of erect- 
ing a College within the said Burgh, in which learn- 
ing may be increased, and the liberal sciences, laws, 
philosophy, and other honest and liberal sciences 
and disciplines taught, to the great advantage of our 
whole Kingdom, and especially of the inhabitants of 
the said Burgh ; and to this effect, with the advice 
of the Lords of our Privy Council, we annexed to 
the said College the acres, places, and tenements, 
belonging to the Kirk-of-field, situated within the 
liberty of the said Burgh, as is more widely contained 
in the said annexation^ In this narrative we see 
first a reference to the terms of the lost charter, 
which evidently defined the scope of the College to 
be founded by the Town Council ; secondly, we see 
that James s existent charter of 14th April 1582 
is designated as ** the annexation " of the acres, 
etc., of the Kirk-of- Field to the said College. The 
designation is loose, as it corresponds rather with 
the general design than with the particular terms of 
the charter in question. But the whole of the 
passage just quoted is quite in accordance with the 
facts previously related, and with the interpretation 
put upon them. 

It may now be asked, How is it possible that so 


important a document as the charter under the Great 
Seal for the foundation of the College of Edinburgh 
should have disappeared, and that no mention of it, 
if it ever existed, should appear in the Register of 
the Great Seal charters ? The latter circumstance, 
however, is easily explained : — Though it was 
intended that every charter, when completed, should 
also be recorded in the Office of Chancery, the 
regulations as to sealing and recording for a long 
period left this to the discretion of the grantee, who, 
having obtained his charter, was often insensible to 
the importance of having it put on record, or grudged 
to pay the fees, and thus the Register continued to 
be a most imperfect record of the charters which 
passed the Seal, until, in the year 1672, an Act was 
passed ordaining that every charter should be re- 
corded before it was sealed and given out. The 
College charter then very likely came to the Town 
Council unrecorded, and when they had got it, they 
had no reason for carefully preserving it ; on the con- 
trary, it may have suited them better that it should be 
suppressed. For the charter probably conveyed to 
them no privilege beyond the right to found a College, 
which right was exhausted when the College had 
been founded. On the other hand, the charter may 
very likely have imposed duties upon them, such as 
an obligation to keep up the buildings and provide 
for the teaching of the College. The Town Council 
had no interest in preserving the Charter of Founda- 
tion, because if it were destroyed their rights of 
government over the College would come under 


the terms of the other, and still existing, charter, 
which, without imposing any responsibilities upon 
them, gave them, in the widest terms, absolute power 
over all professorial teaching within the burgh of 
Edinburgh. Clearly, then, it would be for the 
advantage of the Town Council that the Charter of 
Foundation should disappear. 

And it is not beyond the bounds of possibility 
that the King himself may have had motives for 
preferring to have the Charter of Foundation sup- 
pressed. We are on very speculative ground now, 
and can only advance what seem not impossible 
solutions. But it is not incredible, and there are 
some reasons for believing, that James VI., after 
he had come of age, took a different view of the 
College from that which had been taken by the 
Crown officers who drew up the Charter of Founda- 
tion. That charter must surely have granted to the 
College the power of conferring degrees, and one 
great argument for such a charter having existed 
is, that otherwise the Town Council would hardly 
have assumed, as they did, a degree-giving power 
for their College from its very commencement. 
Well, we may suppose, from the words above quoted 
from the charter of April 1584, that the Charter of 
Foundation defined the object of the College to be — 
to teach and give degrees in ** the liberal sciences, 
laws, philosophy," and so forth. But James may 
have changed his mind with regard to this, and may 
have wished to have the province of the College 
more limited. In particular, he may have objected, 


and we shall subsequently show reasons for thinking 
that he did object, to the foundation of a Faculty of 
Laws in Edinburgh. And it is a remarkable circum- 
stance that the Act of 1621 ** ratifies and approves 
the erection of the said great lodging, manse, and 
house of the Kirk -of- field into a College for the 
profession of Theology, Philosophy, and Humanity;" 
and further encourages the " placing therein sufficient 
Professors for teaching of all liberal sciences," with- 
out any mention of Laws, though " Laws " were 
mentioned as distinct from "Liberal Sciences" in 
the charters both of 1582 and 1584. If James VI. 
had come to the conclusion, perhaps in the year 1590, 
that it would be better to confine the College of 
Edinburgh to being a College of Arts and Theology, 
he may have thought it expedient to cancel the 
Charter of Foundation, which perhaps constituted 
it, too definitely for his views, a College of all the 

A little collusion on such a matter between the 
Crown and the Town Council would have been quite 
in accordance with the spirit of these times. If the 
King suggested the quiet suppression of the Charter 
of Foundation, the Town Council would have no 
cause to object to such a step, which, as we have 
seen, would place them in the possession of unlimited 
powers over the College, in lieu of a position, which, 
perhaps, was to some extent defined in the Charter 
of Foundation. The Ministers of Edinburgh, if 
they were privy to the transaction, would have no 
reason to resist it, as the remaining charter of 1582 


associated them with the Town Council in the 
appointment and dismissal of all future Professors. 
And, moreover, we shall show that it was not unlikely 
that the Ministers themselves originated the opposi- 
tion to a Law Faculty. Even RoUock himself 
would, from his own way of looking at things, be 
rather glad than otherwise to have his College re- 
stricted to Arts and Theology. Thus the only 
section of any importance in Edinburgh that would 
have had cause to feel aggrieved at the suppression 
of the Charter of Foundation was the College of 
Justice. But in the sixteenth century the King of 
Scots, with the Ministry on his side, would be too 
strong for the College of Justice, even if that body 
were aware of what was being done. But all this is 
speculation ; valeat quantum. A grain of fact, if now 
ascertainable, might supersede it all. 

It is difficult for the historian to suppress a sigh 
of baffled curiosity over the charter too apparently 
lost. If we had it, it could not fail to tell us the 
ideas which regulated the foundation of the College. 
Possibly it defined the position of the Town Council 
as Patrons and Trustees, and thus to some extent 
gave a constitution to the seat of learning which was 
being created. If so, the preservation of the docu- 
ment would have altered the course of subsequent 
events. It might have obviated a thousand heart- 
burnings and long litigations of which we shall have 
to tell. It might even have been of advantage to 
the successive generations of the Town Council, to 
be placed under definite responsibility, instead of 


having entrusted to them the indefinite powers given 
by the existing charter of 1582, and confirmed by 
the Act of 162 1. It was, however, only as time went 
on that the loss of the charter became of moment ; 
during the first half- century of the existence of 
the College, in its ** day of small things," prob- 
ably matters would have proceeded very much 
in the same way with the charter as they did 
without it. 

But to return to the region of solid fact : we 
have before us King Jamess charter of 14th April 
1582, and, as it could not have been inconsistent 
with any other collateral document, we may proceed 
to consider it as it stands, and just as if no other 
charter of the College had ever existed. We see 
how totally dissimilar it is to the Bulls constituting 
the Universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, and 
Aberdeen. We miss the preamble with reasons 
why a University should be founded ; the insti- 
tuimus et fundamus Studium Generale ; the conces- 
sion of privileges ; and all mention of Faculties, 
Degrees, Chancellor, Rector, Masters, Regents, and 

We find that it starts with a summary and then 
a citation in full of the charter and infeftment granted 
by "our dearest mother" to the Town Council and 
community of Edinburgh ; and thence proceeds to 
ratify, at first generally, and afterwards more parti- 
cularly, the grants and concessions of Church property 
made by Queen Mary. Its further contents are as 
follows : — 


I. Mary's charter had only specified the Ministry 
and the poor as the objects to which this Church 
property was to be applied. King James's charter 
enlarged the scope by adding on^ the promotion of 
education and learning. It granted the monastic 
revenues to the Town Council, **to be applied by 
them for ever to the sustentation of the ministry, 
the assistance of the poor, the repair of schools, and 
the propagation of letters and sciences, as may seem 
good to them and their successors." 

II. It gave power to the Town Council of accept- 
ing endowments which any persons in future time, 
moved by good zeal, and of their own free will, 
may give and bestow " for the aliment of ministers 
of the gospel, the assistance of the poor, and the sus- 
tentation of schools {gymnasiorum) for the advance- 
ment of sciences and learning." 

III. It confirmed **the renunciation and demis- 
sion made by our servant John Gib of all right and 
title, which by virtue of our gift he could claim, to 
the Provostry of the Church of St. Mary of the 
Fields " {vulgo " Kirk-of-Field "), '* with all its lands, 
revenues, etc.," in favour of the said Town Council, 
and in behoof of the Ministry and the poor. 

IV. It gave the Town Council power to build 
Schools and Colleges on the sites and grounds of the 
religious houses in the following terms : — ** And 
whereas there are now within the privileges and 

^ In the parallel case of Glasgow King James had not merely 
enlarged the scope of his mother's charter, but had simply handed 
over all the monastic property specified in that charter to "our College 
of Glasgow " (see above, p. 85). 


liberty of our said burgh diverse void and spacious 
(vasta et spatiosa) places which in time past belonged 
to the Provost, Prebendaries, Priests, and Friars, 
especially fit and convenient for the construction 
of houses and buildings where Professors of good 
sciences and letters and students of the same might 
reside, and hold their full course of study {diuturnam 
exercitationem habere), beside other places suitable 
for almshouses ; — therefore We, strenuously desiring 
that for the honour of God and the common good of 
our realm literature should day by day be increased, 
will and concede that it shall be lawful to the afore- 
said Provost, Councillors, and their successors to 
build and repair sufficient houses and places for the 
reception, residence, and entertainment of teachers 
(professorum) of grammar schools, of humanity and 
the tongues, of philosophy, theology, medicine, and 
laws, or of other liberal sciences whatsoever. Which 
we declare shall be no infringement of the purposes 
for which the aforesaid property was devised (pra- 
dicta martificationisy 

V. Finally, it gave full liberty to the Town 
Council and their successors, "with advice, how- 
ever, of the ministers," to choose persons most 
suitable for teaching the said branches ; with power 
of inducting and removing them according as may 
be expedient; and of prohibiting all others from 
professing or teaching the said sciences within the 
boundaries of the burgh, except with the permission 
of the Town Council. 

Obviously this is no charter founding a University ; 


and several writers have been careless in speaking of 
it as "the Charter of the University of Edinburgh."* 
The document is, under the circumstances, peculiar ; 
for if, as Craufurd says, the Town Council had 
obtained "the gift of a University" — that is, the 
promise of one — it would have been natural for the 
King, as other kings had done before him, and as 
he alone could now do in Scotland (the power of the 
Pope being extinct), to issue a charter founding a 
University, with such privileges as might be deemed 
fit, and endowing it with certain definite grants of 
the monastic property. But he did nothing of the 
kind ; he confirmed Queen Mary's gift of monastic 
lands and revenues, made, this applicable to educa- 
tional as well as other purposes, and gave the Town 
Council large and exclusive powers of creating and 
regulating establishments of higher education in 
Edinburgh, at their own pleasure, "with, however, 
the advice of the ministers." It is true that the 
charter not only permits, but seems to invite, the 
erection of a College in the Kirk-of- Field ; this 
being in accordance with former petitions of the 
Town Council, and doubtless with recent negotia- 
tions on the subject. Yet still, had the Town 
Council and Ministers change.d their mind after the 

* If any definition of the scope of James VI.'s charter of 1582 were 
required, it is to be found plainly given in Charles I.'s charter of 1636, 
which, after citing it, says : " By which our dearest father gave and 
conceded to the Town Council the liberty of erecting a college — 
building houses for Professors of Humanity, the Tongues, etc., and 
choosing adequate Professors. And to this effect he gave and conceded 
to them and their successors the Provostry of the Kirk-of-Field, with 
its lands, tenements, revenues, and appurtenances." 


granting of the charter, there was nothing in the 
charter itself to bind them to this particular course ; 
they were left at liberty to choose their own line of 
action in reference to educational measures. The 
charter, while speaking of schola and gymnasia^ 
seems carefully to avoid making mention of either 
a College or a University. The subjects which it 
specifies as lawful to be professed are indeed co- 
extensive with those of any Studium Generale, but 
there is no authority given to found a Sttidium 

We may safely conclude that all this was not 
fortuitous, but that all the terms of the charter were 
the result of careful consideration on the part of the 
Kings advisers. In King Jamess charter to the 
College of Glasgow in 1577 the old University of 
Glasgow had not been abrogated, but simply ignored. 
When it came to the question in 1582 whether the 
King should found a University in Edinburgh, it is 
extremely likely that cautious counsellors represented 
that it might be more safe not to do so. In the early 
days of the Reformation there was on both sides a 
certain jealousy of Universities, on account of their 
independence, and their natural tendency to deal 
with theological questions. Thus we learn that in 
1594 the Magistrates of Geneva having sent a 
deputation to the King of France, to obtain from 
him the rights of a University for the Academy of 
Geneva, the King refused, declaring that he had 
made the same answer to the States of the Low 
Countries, ** because Universities are hotbeds of 



heresy."* And we have seen throughout the last 
chapter how the Reformers in Scotland, from 1560 
^o 1579, took no measure for founding any new 
University, or for strengthening the old Universities 
as such, but gave all their attention to promoting 
the higher education of the country by means of 
Colleges. The same policy was apparently kept in 
view in 1582 with regard to the movement in Edin- 
burgh. A compromise was agreed upon, which was 
probably quite acceptable to Lawson, Balcanquall, 
and the Littles, as well as to the Town Council. 
The King was not to found a University, but was 
to give full powers to the Town Council, ** with the 
advice of the Ministers," to found a College, or 
Colleges, for the higher studies. And the municipal 
authorities and clergy of Edinburgh were entrusted 
for ever with the absolute control of higher education 
within the burgh. 

At first sight, and in contrast with mediaeval 
notions, this may seem to have been a strange and 
novel arrangement ; but there was precedent for it, 
and reflection shows that it was of the nature of a 
copy. The precedent and the model in this matter 
was Geneva — Geneva, to which the Scottish Kirk 
looked as the fountain-head of its doctrine and dis- 
cipline — Geneva, which had been the asylum for 
refugee Scottish Reformers from 1554 till 1560. In 
the republic of Geneva the Municipal Council was 
of course supreme; and in 1559, while the place 

^ "Parce que les universit^s sont des pepinieres dlidresie." Senebier, 
Histoire Utteraire de Geneve (1786), vol. i. p. 55. 


was Still full of Scotchmen, that Council had, by the 
advice of Calvin, opened their Academy.^ The 
Academy of Geneva failed, as we have seen, to 
obtain recognition as a University from the King of 
France. But it at once rose to be a distinguished 
seat of learning ; Melville had been Professor there 
from 1569 to 1574, and it is not to be supposed that 
Melville had not his say upon the question of found- 
ing a College or University in Edinburgh. The 
result, probably of much consultation, was that the 
King should not found a University, but that he 
should put the Town Council of Edinburgh in the 
same position as the Municipal Council of Geneva, 
and enable them, "with the advice of the ministers," 
to found a College just as the Municipal Council of 
Geneva, with the advice of "the Venerable Com- 
pany of Pastors," had established their Academy. 
The magistrates and clergy who accepted this 
arrangement may have been secretly pleased with 
its democratic aspect ; but they forgot that the 
Municipal Council of Geneva were the rulers of 
the entire republic, and therefore had powers for 
carrying out what was best, which were wanting to 
the Town Council of Edinburgh. And, on the 
other hand, the young King s flatterers would tell 
him, or he would be astute enough to reflect, that 
Town Councils would be his creatures, and that he 
could appoint and remove them at pleasure ; there- 
fore that the educational powers granted to the Town 
Council could still be wielded by himself. And we 
' See Appendix D. Academy of Geneva. 


find him very soon afterwards acting upon these 

The Town Council of Edinburgh then had full 
liberty given them to found a College, but they were 
far from being in a position to emulate Bishop 
Kennedy or Bishop Elphinston by erecting a struc- 
ture of architectural grace and dignity. It was quite 
understood that what they had to do was to adapt 
the buildings which had appertained to the Kirk-of- 
Field for collegiate purposes. But even for this 
they lacked funds :^ we have seen how they hung 
back, till, having been threatened with the loss of 
their privilege, they set to work at the beginning of 
April 1583, and began to wall in the buildings which 
they considered suitable. 

Of these the chief was " Hamilton House," also 
called ** The Duke's Lodging," which they destined 
to be the main building of their College. This 
mansion had been erected by the Duke of Chatel- 
herault, upon the site of an hospital belonging to 
the Collegiate Church of Kirk-of- Field, and which 
had been burned down by the English some time 
during the invasions of 1544-47. The site was pur- 
chased by the Duke in 1555 ; it ran from north to 
south, commencing at the centre of the north side of 
the present University quadrangle. The large house 
which the Duke built upon it was confiscated on the 

^ In June 1583, as we have seen, they levied an assessment on 
the city, part of which went to the College buildings. This has been 
erroneously represented by Bower to have been a loan for the pur- 
pose. In the next month 700 merks of Reid*s legacy came in. In 
January 1 583-84 they raised another assessment of 2000 merks on the 
town, 1 100 of which were to go to the College buildings. 

1583] HAMILTON HOUSE. 129 

forfeiture of the Hamiltons, and was bestowed upon 
some courtiers, and by them sold to the Town 
Council of Edinburgh. Thus the chief site and 
fabric for the accommodation of their College did 
not come to the Town Council by virtue of Queen 
Mary's charter or James s confirmation, but by a 
private purchase, the validity of which was after- 
wards successfully disputed,* so that the subjects had 
to be paid for over again. The interior of Hamilton 
House was adjusted so as to furnish class-rooms and 
a tolerably large hall, with three "chambers" or 
sleeping apartments for Students. To this ** great 
lodging " the Town Council either adapted, or built, 
a sort of wing running east from its northern end, 
and containing fourteen ''chambers." Hamilton 
House and its wing constituted the whole of the 
buildings hastily prepared and partially walled in 
during the summer of 1583 for the reception 
of the Town's College. 

And now the Town Council began to look out for 
the man who should be entrusted with the headship 
of it* A contemporary writer, Henry Charteris, wish- 
ing to uphold the dignity of the nascent institution, 
and availing himself of the ambiguity of certain Latin 

* In 1586 Lord John Hamilton, on the removal of the attainder 
from his family, "laid claim to the lodging in the Kirk-of-field, which 
had been converted and employed for the schools of Philosophy." 
He was persuaded to waive this claim, but his son, the second 
Marquis of Hamilton, twenty-six years afterwards revived it, and " by 
the aid of Lord Binning and other strong friends on the Session" 
made it good, and compelled the Town Council to pay him ^£3000 as 
compensation, which, as if in mere despite and scorn, he handed over 
as a gift to a dissipated follower. See Craufurd, p. 78. 

VOL. I. K 


terms, says that "they began to deliberate on a 
Rector to preside over the Academy."* Academia 
was the word which the Humanists had introduced 
to mean ** University," because they disliked the 
mediaeval terms Studium Generale and Universitas ; 
on the other hand it was sometimes used to denote 
a College, and the ** Academy " of Geneva was dis- 
tinctly declared not to be a University. Rector was 
the title of a high University officer, but it was also 
given in early times to the head -master of a muni- 
cipal school.* Thus Charteris could not have been 
called to account for the terms he used, for they 
admitted of a double sense. But it is certain that 
he meant them to be taken in their more dignified 
import. And his words are here quoted as the first 
instance of what often occurred afterwards, namely, 
that all who wrote on the history of the University 
of Edinburgh — Charteris himself, Craufurd, Dalzel, 
and Bower — claimed for it from the commencement 
the high titles and functions belonging to a mediae- 
val University, whereas it is plain that the Town 
Council considered that they were only founding 
a College. In the City Records the "Towns 
College," as they generally call it, is never once 
designated as a University till near the end of the 
seventeenth century, when the reader of these 
records meets all of a sudden, under date 24th 

* Consultare de Rectore qui Academiae praeesset H. Charteris, 
Vita et Obiius D, Roberti Rollociy Scotiy Narratioy p. 42. 

2 The title of ** Rector " came into Scotland long before there was 
a University in the country, for in 1233 the schools of St Andrews 
were under charge of a " Rector." 

1583-1 ROBERT ROLLOCK. 131 

March 1685, with the admission that the College 
had, by James VI/s charter, been ** erected as a 
University." This remarkable entry will be com- 
mented on in the next chapter. 

James VI., at the Stirling disputation, was explicit 
in saying : "I will be godfather to the College of 
Edinburgh, and will have it called the College of 
King James." And accordingly the institution in 
question got the official title of Academia Jacobi 
Sexti now engraved over its portal, which title of 
Academia^ being conveniently ambiguous, suits its 
present fortunes, as well as the more restricted views 
of its founders. 

The Town Council, in seeking a head for this 
College, did not turn their eyes towards Montague 
College,^ or the Scots College in Paris, in search of 
some Scot perfected abroad in scholarship and philo- 
sophy — like Bishop Kennedy, who fetched home 
John Athelmar to be Provost of St. Salvator s, or 
Bishop Elphinston, who recalled Hector Boece to be 
Principal of Kings College. Home-bred learning 
had now become respectable in Scotland ; and, on 
the other hand, in the then earnest mood of the 
national mind, personal religion, as well as a correct 
theology, would be thought of as primary requisites 
in one who was to be made the guide of youth. 
Between Paris and Scotland the Reformation had 
set a gulf. The Town Council might have looked 
to Geneva for aid, but James Lawson thought that 
he knew, **from the report of many," a man who 
* Sec Appendix E. Montague College and the Scots College. 


was possessed in eminent degree of all the needful 

This was Robert RoUock, son of the laird of 
Powis, near Stirling, who had never been out of 
Scotland, but had been educated, first at the school 
of Stirling under Thomas Buchanan (nephew of the 
great George), and afterwards at St. Salvator's, 
where in 1580 he had been made Regent of Philo- 
sophy. This young man, now in his thirty-third 
year, had, during his short career as a teacher, made 
a reputation, not only for his competence in philo- 
sophy, but also for the piety which he instilled into 
the minds of his pupils. 

To him Lawson wrote a letter, making overtures, 
which being favourably answered, a deputation was 
sent over to St. Andrews by the Town Council of 
Edinburgh to confer with RoUock, and honourably 
invite him to accept the newly -created charge. 
Rollock then came to Edinburgh and had an inter- 
view with his future patrons, the result of which was 
that on the 14th September 1583 a contract was 
concluded between the Magistrates and himself to 
the following effect : — 

I. **The said Master Robert shall enter the 
College newly founded within the said Burgh for the 
instruction of the youth, and professing of good learn- 
ing (as the erection and foundation bears) the four- 
teenth day of October next, without further delay, 
and shall exercise the office of the Regent of the said 
College, in instruction, government, and correction 
of the youth and persons which shall be committed 


to his charge, during the space of one year im- 
mediately following his said entry, and further, so 
long as the said Mr. Robert uses himself faithfully 
therein, according to the rules and injunctions which 
shall be given to him by the Provost, Baillies, and 
Council of the said burgh." 

II. The Council engage to pay him the sum of 
£40 Scots, in two equal portions, at Candlemas and 
Lammas ; and also to ** sustain him and one servant 
in their ordinary expenses." 

He is also to have as fees **from the bairns 
inhabitants of the said burgh forty shillings, and from 
the bairns of others not inhabitants therein, j^^ or 
more, as the bairns' parents may please to bestow of 
their liberality." And if at the end of the year the 
said Mr. Robert finds himself **not sufficiently 
satisfied " with his said yearly fee and casualties, he 
is to have an augmentation, not, however, exceeding 
the amount of 40 merks. 

III. The Council bind themselves that **as it 
shall happen their College in policy and learning to 
increase, the said Mr. Robert, upon his good merit, 
shall be advanced to the most honourable place that 
shall be vacant therein " (i.e. to the highest post or 
title which should be created). 

This document had many characteristic features. 
We note in it the straitened circumstances of the 
Town Council, which obliged them — after all the 
fine phrases in King James's charter about Professors 
of all the liberal sciences — to content themselves 
with starting a College to be furnished with only one 


Regent or tutor. We note their caution in engaging 
RoUock as Regent for only one year certain. We 
note also their Scottish homeliness in designating the 
future Students as "bairns." Nor can we fail to 
observe the tight hold and absolute control which 
they reserve to themselves over this future seat of 
"good learning," in which the Regent is only to 
hold office so long as he faithfully obeys the " rules 
and injunctions" of the Provost and Bailies. We 
cannot but reflect upon the humble and abject start 
into existence made by the University of Edinburgh, 
as compared with the free and honourable position 
conferred by Papal Bulls upon the older Universities 
of Scotland. 

There is, however, no just ground of complaint 
against the Town Council of 1583. In asserting 
their powers they only did what was natural in the 
situation in which, by the King s charter, they had 
been placed. RoUock seems to have had no diffi- 
culties placed in his way after he had assumed rule. 
He at once inspired confidence, and was consulted 
in everything. The emoluments covenanted to him 
seem paltry, but the extreme poverty of the muni- 
cipality is to be borne in mind. To illustrate the 
pecuniary arrangement made with Rollock we may 
recall some of the payments for literary offices made 
or proposed in Scotland during the sixteenth century. 
In 1500 Boece came to be Principal of King's 
College on a salary of 40 merks ; he, however, had 
free board in addition, and he obtained the rectory 
of Fyvie, and a pension from the King of ;^50 per 


annum. In 1541 Bishop Reid gave Ferrerius, a 
foreign scholar, for instructing the monks of Kinloss, 
jC^o a year, and maintenance for himself, a servant, 
and two horses. In 1560 the Book of Discipline 
proposed that Principals of Colleges should have 
£200 per annum each, and Professors from ;^200 to 
;^ioo. In 1573 the Town Council of Glasgow, 
having hardly anything to give, gave the Principal 
of the College of Glasgow 60 merks (or £/^o) per 
annum, with free board. In 1577 the Erectio Regia, 
drawn up under Melville's inspiration, allotted to the 
same Principal 200 merks and 3 chalders (equal 
perhaps to ;^50 sterling), and board at the common 
table of the College. Rollock was to have £\o, or 
60 merks, per annum, fees from each Student of 40s., 
with ;^3, or more, according to the liberality of 
parents, from Students coming from outside the town ; 
and if the aggregate of salary and fees should prove 
insufficient, he was to have an augmentation not 
exceeding 40 merks. In computing what this would 
actually come to, we find that Rollock's class, during 
his first four years as Regent of Philosophy, was 
probably not over sixty in number. In 1587 he 
graduated forty-eight Students, apparently the whole 
number with him, but some may have dropped off 
during the course. Taking sixty as a liberal estimate 
of the average number, we get 180 merks fees per 
annum, plus 60 merks salary, and perhaps 40 merks 
augmentation ; total 280 merks, or ;^i87 Scots. As 
the Scots currency was debased in 1585 from one- 
sixth to one-eighth of the value of the English 


currency, Rollock s emoluments would be equal to 
about ;^23 17:6 sterling of that day. In addition 
to this he was to have free board and lodging for 
himself and one servant.^ After four years a new 
arrangement was made, and his salary was consoli- 
dated at 400 merks, the same sum which in 1560 
had been settled as the stipend of John Knox. 
Rollock, doubtless, was provided with all the neces- 
saries for a simple, frugal life ; and he not only 
married, but he was even able to exercise a certain 
amount of hospitality ; for it is recorded that " he 
never suffered his old teacher, Thomas Buchanan, 
when he happened to come tq Edinburgh, to live in 
any house but his." . ' 

The standard of teaching in the College of Edin- 
burgh was from the outset fixed at University level, 
according to the ideas of these times. The line of 
demarcation consisted, in the first place, in this — 
that Latin was to be the language of the classes ; 
not only was the Regent to lecture upon all his 
subjects in Latin, but all intercourse, all question 
and answer, between him and the Students was to 
be conducted in the same language. Hence arose 
the necessity of the first act of the College, namely, 
to hold an Entrance Examination, in order to pre- 
vent Students being admitted to the classes who, 
from their want of sufficient familiarity with Latin, 
would not be able to follow the teaching. Rollock 

* The allowance for the board of Rollock and his servant was 
fixed at half a merk per day, equal to ;£i2o Scots, or about ;^2o sterling 
per annum in 1SS3. 


having come to Edinburgh delivered an address, 
which has not been preserved, in the hall of Hamilton 
House on the ist October 1583. A crowd of youths 
— magna multiiudo, says the somewhat florid bio- 
grapher — applied for admission ; but they were 
directed to enrol their names before one of the 
Bailies, and to appear for a testing examination on 
the 1 1 th of the same month. Rollock in the mean- 
time worked paternally with the young men, assisting 
them to bring their Latin up to the mark. But on 
the day of trial a considerable proportion failed.^ By 
the advice of Rollock these persons were not abso- 
lutely excluded from the College, but a tutor was 
provided for them, "to furnish them more thoroughly 
with Latinity against the following year." On the 
8th November Mr. Duncan Nairn was appointed to 
this office, and thus became "Second Master" of 
the College. He had been a pupil of Andrew Mel- 
ville's at Glasgow, and graduated there in 1580 ; he 
was said to be a young man " of remarkable scholar- 
ship and great refinement." The class now entrusted 
to him, though attached to the College, held an infra- 
Academical position ; for the year passed by them in 

* This was probably due in a great measure to the High School 
having been hampered for more than twenty years with a head-master 
— one Robertoun — who held his appointment from a former Abbot of 
Holyrood, and who was not only " an obstinate Papist," but also an 
incompetent scholar. The Town Council tried to get rid of him, and 
in 1 562 had summarily dismissed him. But Queen Mary, interfering 
on behalf of her co-religionist, had arbitrarily ordered him to be 
restored to his office. As, by a charter of James V., dated 1529, the 
** principal Grammar School " of Edinburgh had a monopoly of teaching 
classics within the burgh, the incompetency of this head-master was 
very serious. 


preparation did not reckon as part of their four years' 
curriculum for graduation. 

The "Town's College" of Edinburgh was opened, 
probably on the 14th October 1583 (that being the 
day named in RoUock's commission), under two 
Masters, and with an attendance of eighty or ninety 
Students, of whom between fifty and sixty were in 
Rollock's class, commencing their first year's course 
for a degree, and the rest in a preparatory or tutorial 
class under Nairn. It was evidently the idea of the 
Town Council and Ministers not to have Students 
merely attendant on classes, as in a modern Scottish 
University, but to institute a College wherein the 
main body of the Students should reside. Thus, on 
the 8th November 1583, they resolved "that all the 
students of the Town's College shall nightly lie and 
remain in their chambers within the same, and that 
th^y all shall have and wear gowns daily ; and such as 
want gowns and will not lie therein to be put forth 
thereof." This quaintly-worded order shows a true 
collegiate spirit. But unfortunately the Town 
Council were set to make bricks without straw. 
They had not the means of providing adequate 
lodging for the scholars. Craufurd speaks of two 
apartments, which in his time (1626- 1662) were 
class-rooms, having been originally employed for 
chambers, "there being none else beside, except 
the fourteen little chambers (now called the Reid 
Chambers^) on the north side of the little close." 

^ Probably because fitted up with the 700 merks of the Bishop 
Reid's bequest, which fell in in 1 583. 

15«4.1 COLLEGIATE LIFE. 139 

There can hardly then have been accommoda- 
tion for all the Students, though the Town 
Council ordered "that they be two in each bed, 
and pay of chamber rent 40s. each person ; and if 
any will have a bed to himself to pay jC^ of 
chamber rent." 

But for collegiate life not only lodgings but also 
a common table would have been requisite. The 
founders of the College of Edinburgh manifestly 
aimed at this, and lost no opportunity of realising 
their idea.^ We are told that in 1584 "the Abbey 
of Paisley, by the forfeiture first of the Hamiltons 
and afterwards of the Erskines, being vacant at the 
King's donation, was bestowed upon the town of 
Edinburgh, who intended to employ a part thereof 
for an economy to be kept in the College, but the 
revolutions of State which shortly followed quashed 
that design " (Craufurd, p. 26). It is certain, how- 
ever, that a portion of the Students resided within 
the College walls, and Craufurd, speaking of a period 
about forty years after the first start, implies that 
more would have done so had there been room for 
them. He says that then twenty -three chambers 
were the total number available — "a number impro- 
portional to the number of students, which in many 
years exceeded sixteen score." But if in those early 
days of the College forty or fifty Students slept 

^ As late as 1646 we find that they had not abandoned this aspira- 
tion. The Regents having complained of the inadequacy of their 
salaries, the Town Council granted them an augmentation ** during 
the not -establishing of an economy (1.^. provision for household 
expenses) within the said College." 


Within its walls, the question arises, how did they 
breakfast and dine ? And it is most curious that 
neither the City Records, nor any other source of 
information, throws any light on this problem. 
There seems no resource but to conclude that the 
' ' in-coUege " Students catered for themselves. U nder 
date 1628 we find an order of the Town Council con- 
taining " Laws to be observed by the Scholars in the 
said College," and also a statement of "The form 
of discipline usually observed in the said College." 
The curious thing about these documents is that no 
distinction is made in them between in-College and 
out- College Students. Though the latter class — 
those living in the town — must have formed two- 
thirds of the whole body, yet the regulations almost 
entirely apply to those resident in College chambers. 
Thus: none are to "go out of the gate after it is 
once locked by the Janitor, without leave of one of 
the Regents." They are all to "speak Latin," both 
in the schools, in the close, in the fields, and in all 
other places where they are together; and " none is to 
be found speaking Scotch." The following passage, 
however, would seem applicable to out -Students : 
" After their dismissal (from classes) at all times in 
the day, especially in the evening, they are to go 
directly to their lodgings, and not to be found 
assembling in companies either in the gaitt (i.e. the 
road or street) or elsewhere, and in like manner at 
the time of their coming again to the schools." 
The order that "none go to taverns" seems hard 
on the resident Scholars, if they had to provide their 


own eating and drinking. But as to this point the 
otherwise minute Regulations of the Town Council 
say not a word. The law about wearing gowns, 
so stringently laid down in 1583, is not repeated in 
' the later code, and in all probability it was a dead 
letter from the first. Perhaps it was disliked and 
resisted by influential parents, and was dropped in 
consequence. Thus from the outset the Edinburgh 
Students presented rather a citizen -like than an 
Academic appearance. 

In some of the domestic arrangements of the 
"Town's College" the Council imitated the usage 
of the mediaeval Colleges, for they exacted a 
certain amount of menial service from beneficed 
Students.^ The bursars in turns, two each week, 
were to have charge of ringing the bell ^ to summon 
classes, at five o clock in summer and six in winter ; 
then again at ten o'clock and at half-past one. They 
were also to " paidell " (i.e. scour with brushes 
attached to the feet) the stairs and entrances to the 
schools. The Janitor, who had a paid office, was 
at first always a Student of the fourth year, or else a 
graduate who was studying theology. He was to 
keep the main gate of the College ; unlock it in the 
morning, and lock up at ten at night. Also to keep 
the keys of the schools, or class-rooms ; to place 

* This practice, however, does not date from the first opening, for 
there were then no Bursaries. We shall see in the next chapter that 
six Bursaries were established in 1597, by the College of Justice and 
the Town Council jointly. 

* On the 6th December 1583 the Town Council ordered their 
" Master of work in the Town's College to buy the skellet bell for the 
said College, and to hang up the same by the advice of the Bailies." 


candles in them at night, and sweep them out thrice 
a week. And he was to have an eye to the buildings 
in general, and report when repairs were necessary. 
He was to ring the bell for dismissal of classes, 
probably because the bursars, who were otherwise 
the bell-ringers, would be themselves in class/ 

Both in-College and out-College Students had to 
assemble early in the morning, and they had a long 
day's work every day throughout ten or eleven 
months of the year. Even on "play-days" they 
were only allowed to go for two hours to the fields 
— that is, to a part of the '* Muir lands " (answering 
to what is now *' Warrender Park "), where they had 
a playground assigned to them, and where they used 
to practise archery. Each Regent had constant 
tutorial supervision of his class, and when they were 
not attending lectures he was perpetually "conferring" 
with them and examining them. Under Rollock 
a religious character so far pervaded the institution 
that he may almost be said to have presided over a 
Protestant religious house in the Kirk-of- Field. 
Every evening the Principal conducted family wor- 
ship with the Students. Every Wednesday he in- 
structed all the Scholars " in the knowledge of God 
and of their duties." On Sundays all the Students 
assembled for morning lessons, and then were taken 

1 This shows that the Janitor would have his studies interfered 
with by the duties imposed upon him. And in 1635 Principal Adam* 
son recommended the Town Council to confer the office of Janitor 
upon some one who was not a Student, " especially upon a bookbinder, 
who might employ himself at work within the gate of the College, in a 
room fit for this purpose," Whereupon one " David Smith, book- 
binder, was elected porter," and others of his craft succeeded him. 


to church for the morning and afternoon sermons ; 
after which they had to return to the College and give 
an account of the sermons. At first they appear to 
have gone to the **High Church" (St. Giles*), but in 
1600 the Town Council allotted the east loft of 
Trinity College Church for the use of the Students. 

The foregoing particulars serve to give us a 
tolerably clear picture of the general life of the Col- 
lege of Edinburgh, as shaped out by Rollock during 
the first years of its existence — all except the arrange- 
ments for meals, on which we find no information. 
And in all those particulars we see that it was as 
yet no University, but an essentially collegiate and 
domestic institution. On the other hand, its founders 
assumed for it from the outset the power of confer- 
ring degrees. This power before the Reformation 
had been derived solely and directly from popes or 
kings. Whence, then, did the College of Edinburgh 
obtain it ? There seem to be only two alternative 
answers to this question. Either the privilege was 
conveyed in a lost charter of the foundation of the 
College, or else, after negotiation on the subject, it 
was orally conceded by the State authorities that 
the Town Council should imitate the Municipal 
Council of Geneva (see Appendix D), and assume a 
degree-giving power for their College. It is true 
that the Geneva degrees were disallowed by other 
Universities, or only recognised as a matter of 
courtesy. But it never happened to the Edinburgh 
degrees to be questioned, as we shall see below, till 
1709, and that was far too late, for the Act of 1621 


had fully ratified the degree -conferring powers of 
the College of Edinburgh. 

On the 1 6th October 1583 the magistrates 
appointed a committee, of which William Little — 
one of the chief promoters of the University, and 
afterwards Provost — was a leading member, ** to 
devise the order of teaching to be kept in the 
College now erected." Of course this was done in 
consultation with RoUock. The scheme adopted 
was one for a course of strictly University study. 
A curriculum for the attainment of the Master of 
Arts degree was laid down on the lines of what had 
been in use in the older Universities, with some 
modern improvements based on the practice of 
Andrew Melville or the ideas of the post- Reforma- 
tion educationists.^ The curriculum was divided 
into four sessions or classes ; and the old University 
nomenclature for these classes was retained. The 
first or lowest was styled the ** Bajan " class, as con- 
sisting of the Bajani or ** Freshmen.** The mode 
of spelling this term adopted in Scotland has been 
misleading, and hence Principal Lee^ says, ** There is 
no doubt that the word is derived from the Latin 
Pagani, rustics requiring to be civilised or humanised 
though enlisted among the cives acadetnici; in the 
same manner as the name pagani was anciently given 
to the Roman conscripts or raw recruits.** But the 
word, as an Academic term, came from the University 

* George Buchanan did not live to sec the opening of the College 
of Edinburgh, or to give his advice as to its regulation. He had died 
in September 1582. * Academic Annual^ p. 27. 


of Paris, where the form was always, not Bajanus, 
but Bejanus or Beantis ;^ while the entrance fee 
paid by a new Student to his "nation" was called 
Bejaunium seu jucundtis adventus — money to furnish 
a feast in celebration of his arrival. In the forms 
Bejanus and Bejaunium we find the two syllables 
BeC'jaune clearly retained ; and Ducange says : 
"Vox Gallica Bejaum, quasi Bec-jaune, ut sunt 
aviculse quae nondum e nido evolarunt" The 
" Bajan " class, then, was for the Gelbschnabely or 
callow bird of Universities. The second class in 
the College of Edinburgh were called ** Semies," i.e. 
"Semi-Bajans," or "Semi-Bachelors." In the third 
year the Students were called " Bachelors," or 
" Determinands ;" because at the end of that year 
they might "determinate," that is, finish their course 
with the imperfect degree of Bachelor {bos cJievalier). 
The fourth year s class consisted of " Magistrands," 
or Students about to be made Magistri. Of course 
when the College was opened in October 1583 it 
could only have a class of first-year men, or "Bajans." 
These were under Rollock, while there was a tutorial 
or preparatory class of unmatriculated Students under 
Nairn. In October 1584 Rollock s class became 
"Semies"or second-year men, while Nairn's class 
were promoted to be " Bajans." In May 1585 the 
plague broke out in Edinburgh, and the College was 
disbanded till February 1586. Thus the second 

^ Ducange quotes from Lambecius a piece of mediaeval wit on 
this word : '^ Bcani definitio latitat in ipsa nominis sui acrostichide — 
Beanus Est Animal Nesciens Vitam Studiosorum.'' 

VOL. I. L 


and third sessions of the College lasted only seven 
months each, instead of eleven, which was the full 
Academical year originally prescribed. And, from 
the same cause, it was not till October 1586 that a 
third Bajan class was started, and a third Regent, 
Alexander Scrimger, added to the staff of the College. 
Nairn had died in February 1586, and Adam Colt 
had been appointed to take his class. Thus in the 
session of 1586-87 the classes were : — 

Magistrands under Rollock ; 
Bachelors under Colt ; 
Semics — none ; 
Bajans under Scrimger. 

At the end of this session Rollock s class laureated 
with the M.A. degree ; and had he been an ordinary 
Regent he would have begun again at the bottom 
with a new class of entrants. But as he was ** Prin- 
cipal " (this title having been conferred upon him in 
February 1585-86), it was thought proper that he 
should be removed from the drudgery of Regenting, 
and he was made Professor of Theology, Philip 
Hislop being appointed to the vacant Regentship. 
Thus in 1587-88 the classes were : — 

Magistrands under Colt ; 
Bachelors — none ; 
Semies under Scrimger ; 
Bajans under Hislop. 

And in 1588-89:— 

Magistrands — none (therefore there 
was no graduation this session) ; 
Bachelors under Scrimger ; 
Semies under Hislop ; 
Bajans under Colt. 


At the beginning of the session 1589-90 a fourth 
class was for the first time added to the College ; 
Charles Ferme being appointed fourth Regent, and 
placed in charge of a new Bajan class. 

The above details exhibit the working of the 
rotation system among the Regents. This system 
had been commonly in use in mediseval Colleges ; it 
was a tutorial as distinguished from a Professorial 
system. For, while the Professor or Reader has his 
particular subject to teach to all pupils who may 
come to him, the rotating Regent or Tutor has his 
particular pupils to instruct in all the subjects of a 
prescribed curriculum. We have seen that the 
authors of the Book of Discipline proposed to abolish 
the rotation of Regents, and to substitute Readers of 
each separate subject. Andrew Melville actually 
introduced this change in the College of Glasgow. 
And the rotation of Regents was forbidden in all the 
Novce Fundationes of the Colleges in Scotland. But 
all those Colleges either did not entirely relinquish, 
or soon returned to, the old plan, which Melville 
and the most enlightened Reformers had denounced. 
And the teaching of the College of Edinburgh was 
established from the outset on the old plan, which 
continued in vogue in all the Universities of Scot- 
land till the beginning of the eighteenth century. 

There was one cogent argument in favour of the 
system which probably decided the Town Council 
of Edinburgh to adopt it, and that was its economy. 
It would be cheaper to get the whole work of pre- 
paring the Students for graduation done by four 


Regents than to appoint separate Readers or Pro- 
fessors for each of the subjects to be taught. The 
Regents in the College of Edinburgh under RoUock 
got a salary of only ;^ioo Scots ^ each, or about 
jCii : ids. sterling, without any provision for board. 
They might earn perhaps ;^8o Scots additional by 
class fees, but the appointments were altogether 
meagre, and were looked on as stepping-stones to 
other preferments. The persons appointed to be 
Regents were almost always young men who had 
recently graduated ; and they were chosen after 
public trial,* in the shape of Latin disputations held 
before competent judges, who acted on the part of 
the Town Council. The procedure was analogous 
in some respects to the election, after a competitive 
examination, of young graduates to be Fellows and 
Tutors of Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. 

The four Regents of Philosophy each carried on 
his own class from entrance to laureation, and then 
began again from the bottom with a fresh class of 
" Bajans." What the course in Philosophy was we 
find completely drawn out in the City Records some 
years later. The work for the four successive years 
was, in brief, as follows : — 

The Bajan year was mainly taken up with Latin 
and Greek scholarship — the books to be read being 
works of Cicero, the Greek Grammar of Clenardus, 
some of the New Testament, Isocrates, Homer, 
Hesiod, and Phocyllides. Large portions of these 
books had to be committed to memory, and constant 

^ See Craufurd's Memoirs^ p* 41* ' See lb, p. 3a 

1583-1628.] THE COLLEGE CURRICULUM. 149 

"versions** or translations into the vernacular, and 
vice versa, had to be made. During the last four or 
five months of the year the Dialectics of Ramus 
were gone through. 

In the Semi-Bajan year the first month was 
occupied with repetition and revisal of last year's 
work. For the next two months the class had to 
study Rhetoric out of the works of Talaeus, Cas- 
sander, and Aphthonius. The remainder of the 
session was devoted to the Organon of Aristotle, 
the greater part of which was read. Towards the 
close of the session a compendium of Arithmetic 
was given to the Students. 

In the Bachelor year the Regent, after examina- 
tions, first read Hebrew Grammar with the Students. 
Then he exercised them in Dialectical Analysis and 
Rhetoric, and read through the Posterior Analytics 
which had before been omitted. At the close of the 
session he gave them a description of the Anatomy 
of the human body. On Saturdays throughout the 
year there were disputations. 

In the Magistrand year, after a repetition of all 
before gone through, the De Casio of Aristotle and 
the Sphere of Johannes de Sacrobosco were read, 
and demonstrations of Practical Astronomy were 
given. Then the Students read the De Ortu, the 
Metearologica, and the De Animal and also Hunteri 
Cosmograpkia (a work on Geography). And they 
were constantly exercised in disputations. 

^ The Ethics of Aristotle must also have been read at this time, as 
they are included in the subjects enumerated for examination. 


In comparing the course thus laid down for the 
College of Edinburgh with its antecedents the 
following contrasts arise : — It differed from the 
mediaeval degree system in Scotland — ( i ) By making 
Greek an indispensable part of University study ; 
whereas, before the Reformation, Aristotle had been 
studied in Latin translations, and the Greek Testa- 
ment had not been read. (2) By the spirit of 
humanism which it exhibited, great attention being 
paid to purity of style both in Greek and Latin. 
(3) By its modernising tendency, in the admission 
of Ramus, and Talaeus, and Hunter s Cosmography, 
and descriptive Anatomy. 

1 1 differed from the scheme of the Book of Disci- 
pline in being not exclusively a scientific course, but 
giving up the first year to scholarship and literature. 
It was evidently moulded, to a great extent, upon 
Andrew Melville*s course, but it omitted two of the 
most important features of that course, namely, 
Geometry and History.^ Probably the Edinburgh 
curriculum was drawn up in accordance with what 
Rollock, who was far less widely accomplished than 
Melville, was prepared to teach. 

One great merit of the system was that it was 
calculated to keep the Students' minds in a constant 
state of activity. The classes were at first small, 
averaging about thirty Students each ;^ thus there 

^ It is remarkable that the study of Universal History, thus 
omitted in the first programme of the University of Edinburgh, has 
been strangely neglected in all the Universities of Scotland ever 

' We infer this from the numbers laureated each year. In 1587, 


was constant tutorial supervision. There was no 
mere passive note-taking allowed, but frequent 
examinations, translations, themes, and disputations 
ensured assimilation of the text-books read, and gave 
to each Student a certain command of thought and 
language. On the whole, the education which the 
College of Edinburgh gave at the end of the six- 
teenth century was, for those times, quite as good 
and useful as that which many modern Universities 
up to very recent times have given. 

The system of examinations for degrees in 
Edinburgh as settled in those early times has been 
minutely recorded by Craufurd, and deserves atten- 
tion. The only degree which the College then and 
for long afterwards conferred being that of Master 
of Arts. The first batch of Magistrands to be 
laureated was Rollocks class in 1587. These he 
carefully examined himself, and then gave them 
their degrees. Afterwards, when the College staff 
was complete, this simple procedure was superseded 
by minutely- prescribed arrangements. The first 
principle of these arrangements appears to have 
been that no Regent should be allowed to examine 
the class which he had himself taught. The Regent 
of the Magistrand class was thus excluded from their 
final examination for degree, and as he had had the 
sole training of them since their matriculation they 
would now have to be examined by persons who had 

48; in 1588, 30; in 1590, 13 (after an outbreak of the plague); in 
1592, 28; in 1593, 19, and another class 20; in 1595, 29; in 1596, 
24; in 1597, 34; in 1598, 32. See Craufurd^s Memoirs, He does 
not give Uie number for 1591. 


taken no part in their teaching. This was devised 
to exclude all suspicion of favouritism. As all the 
Regents were supposed to be thoroughly acquainted 
with the whole curriculum, it was assumed that one 
could examine as well as another. 

At the final examination in July the Magistrands 
came before the Regents of the Bachelor, Semi-Bajan, 
and Bajan classes, and the Regent of Humanity.^ 
The first examined them in the early books of the 
Organon; the second in the Analytics ; the third in 
the Topics and Sophistics^ and in Ramus ; the fourth 
in the Ethics. 

Then again : — The first examined them in the 
Acroamatics; the second in the De Ccelo and in 
Astronomy ; the third in the De Ortu and the 
Meteorologica ; the Humanist in the De Anima. 

The results of all these examinations were sever- 
ally reported to the Principal, and at the same time 
the five Regents each laid before him a report on 
the conduct and " carriage " of every Student. And 
the Principal, considering the conduct as well as the 
ability of each, proceeded to draw up what we should 
call a class-list of the Students to be graduated 
"according to their deservings." 

What we term '* classes " of honours they called 
"circles," and the fixing of the class-list was called 
"circulation." The list as adjusted by the Principal 
contained the names of: — (i) Exortes, those who 
were above the circles ; (2) Those who were in the 

* The nature of this office, created ten years later than the gradua- 
tion of RoUock's class, will be fully explained in the next chapter. 


first circle ; (3) Those who were annexed to or 
approached the first circle ; (4) Those who were in 
the second circle ; (5) '* The remainder in a line, 
whose names were thought fittest to be spared in 
public calling upon them."^ 

The honour system in Edinburgh in those days 
was more complete and stimulating than anything of 
the kind now existing in any University of Scotland. 
But it is curious to find that its very thoroughness 
brought it into disfavour. " Diverse of good note," 
says Craufurd, ** being dissatisfied with the public 
notice of their children s weakness, procured the 
laying aside of the Circulation from the year 1631 
to the year 1643, ^^ which time it was revived in 
part," — the names being called in ranks, not at 
the public disputation, but the night before, in the 
presence of only the Town Council, the Ministers, 
and the Masters of the College. 

There are two points which strike one in the 
examination system above detailed : — firsts that it 
does not comprise all the studies of the four years' 
course, Greek and Latin Scholarship, Arithmetic, 
Hebrew Grammar, Anatomy, and Geography being 
omitted. Thus the examination was entirely in 
Aristotle, with the items of the Dialectics of Ramus 
and Astronomy added on. Probably scholarship was 
considered to have been sufficiently tested in pre- 
vious College examinations, while Hebrew Grammar, 

^ Craufurd, p. 51. This last division is analogous to what in 
Oxford is called " the Gulf," consisting of the names of those who, 
having sought honours, fail to obtain them, but still are admitted to 
bare graduation. . 


Anatomy, Arithmetic, and Geography were regarded 
as hors (Tc^uvre — useful in themselves, but not 
essential parts of the qualification for a degree in 
Philosophy. And this shows that the Town Council 
and Ministers of Edinburgh had not as yet shaken 
off mediaevalism. Second, we note the thoroughly 
collegiate and domestic character of that part of the 
system which made the conduct and carriage of a 
Student to form an element in determining his 
position in the class-list for graduation. 

On the night before the ceremonial of laureation 
the successful Students "convened before the Prin- 
cipal and whole Regents, when they first subscribed 
the Confession. of Faith, and next a solemn engage- 
ment to be dutiful to the College where they had 
got their breeding." Next day came the "Act," 
which consisted of public disputations. This was 
invariably held on a Monday, in order that the Lord 
Chancellor of Scotland, "and other Privy Councillors, 
the Treasurer and Lords of Exchequer, with the 
Lords of Session, Advocates, and Writers, having 
no meeting on that day, might attend ; which they 
used to do with great frequency." A Thesis had 
been drawn up by the Regent of the Magistrand 
class, and subscribed by all the candidates for laurea- 
tion ; and they were now, in presence of a dignified 
assembly, in the Church of Trinity College, or the 
Greyfriars*, or in the College hall, severally bound 
to defend every proposition in it against all impugners. 
Probably some of the class may have been told off to 
impugn, in default of external controversialists ; but 


the audience, containing numerous ministers and 
lawyers who had been trained in foreign Univer- 
sities, would in the sixteenth century furnish many 
veterans able and willing to show their skill in such 
combats of words. The disputations were conducted 
in Latin, and lasted all day, till six in the evening ; 
but, as the graduation-list had been settled before, 
they had no influence upon the fate of the candidates. 
They were a mere exhibition of the Students* expert- 
ness in a kind of exercise which still pleased the 
taste of the day. 

The disputations ended, the candidates were by 
public proclamation called up according to the dis- 
tinct ranks which had been assigned them ; and the 
Principal, after a short exhortation to a virtuous 
and pious life, performed the ceremony of laureation 
" by the imposition of a bonnet (the badge of manu- 
mission) upon the head of each of the candidates ; 
and then one of their number, in a brief speech, 
gave thanks to the assembly, and dismissed them." 

We have now seen clearly the arrangements 
made for education in the College of Edinburgh as 
a College for graduation in Philosophy or Arts. But 
very soon arrangements for education in Theology 
(without graduation) were added. It came about 
in this wise: In February 1585-86 RoUock received 
the title of " Principal or First Master."^ This was 

* Bower most erroneously supposes that this was done by the Town 
Council " with a view of raising their infant institution to the rank of 
a University,*' whereas the office of Principal is not a University office 
at all It, properly speaking, has no place in the System of a Uni- 
versity ; a " Principal " is simply Head Tutor of a College ; he is, in 



simply in fulfilment of the Town CounciVs pledge to 
him (above, p. 133) that they would advance him to 
the highest post vacant in their College. They 
could not have made him Principal to start with, as 
that would have been a contradiction in terms so 
long as' he was sole Regent ; as soon as there were 
Regents under him he was made First Regent or 
Principal. When thus dignified with the title of 
Head, RoUock did not immediately give up his 
Regenting, but carried through his class to laureation 
in August 1587. And it was only on his obligations 
to his class having been discharged that he retired 
from the teaching of Philosophy. And in the follow- 
ing November he was appointed by the Town 
Council, with the consent of the Presbytery of Edin- 
burgh, to be Professor of Theology in the College. 
This reference to the Presbytery was an acknow- 
ledgment of the right of the Kirk of Scodand to 
control in spiritual matters all Universities and 
Colleges, — a right asserted down to 1858. The 
combination in Rollock*s person of the offices of 
Principal and Professor of Theology was in accord- 
ance with the ideas of Melville, as expressed in the 
Erectio Regia (above, p. 85). 

By this appointment a school was created for those 

short, what is called in Oxford or Cambridge " Head of a House." 
At St. Andrews we see two Principals, because there are two separate 
Colleges. The University of Glasgow only got a Principal because 
the Paedagogium or College of Glasgow usurped the place of the 
University, and thus the first officer of the College came to be con- 
sidered the first officer of the University, But modem usage in 
Scotland has completely adopted the misnomer of "Principal of a 


graduates in Arts who proposed to enter the office 
of the Ministry. Of Rollock s work as Professor 
of Theology his biographer says : "I can scarcely 
describe the assiduity, the watchfulness, the labori- 
ousness, with which he set about training in Divinity 
such of his former pupils as applied their minds to 
this study. Sometimes he dictated a logical analysis 
of one of the Epistles of St. Paul, or of some other 
book of Scripture ; sometimes he handled general 
topics ; sometimes he examined into the points of 
controversy with Popery ; and in these pursuits he 
suffered no hour of the day to pass unemployed." 
Craufurd says of him : ** He had incredible dexterity 
in framing the spirits of the young divines to the 
pastoral charge, and had for the space of eleven years 
the most flourishing seminary of that kind which 
was known in that age." Without quite endorsing 
Craufurd's retrospective eulogy, and his claim for 
Rollock's school of Theology to have been the first 
of those days, we cannot fail to recognise that Rollock 
personally did a noble work. Though, on the other 
hand, looking at the matter, not from a spiritual, but 
from a scientific point of view, we see that his con- 
ception of theological teaching was inferior to that 
of Andrew Melville. But reserving a more par- 
ticular account of Rollock as a Divine for a later 
page, we only note here that in 1587 the College 
of Edinburgh was complete in its first stage of 
development as a College of Arts and Theology. 
There were four Regents, each of whom in turn 
every fourth year brought up his class to be 


graduated, and there was a Principal, who was 
also Professor of Theology, and who laboriously 
taught such of the Masters of Arts as chose to 
stay on at College, not, however, with a view to 
a degree in Divinity, but as a preparation for the 

In this simple form the College, owing chiefly 
to the zeal and wisdom of RoUock, and the beauty 
of his character, took firm root. It did not, like 
the older Universities, commence with a blaze of 
success and then collapse. It started from a very 
humble beginning and steadily expanded into greater 
things. External circumstances, both in nature and 
in politics, were at the outset very unpropitious to 
it. In its second session it had to be disbanded, 
owing to an invasion of the Plague. In the year 
after its opening its chief promoter, and best and 
wisest friend, James Lawson, was banished from 
Scotland by the influence of the Earl of Arran, and 
shortly afterwards **died at London, to the great 
grief of all the godly." And Principal Lee seems to 
think that it was a disadvantage to the College that 
in 1584 James VI. arbitrarily deposed the Town 
Council — at the head of whom was Alexander Clark, 
laird of Balbirnie, who had been Provost for six 
years, during all the efforts to get a University 
established — and forced upon the Town a Council of 
his own nomination, with that same "profligate 
Earl of Arran " as Chief Magistrate. However this 
may be, the King did some good turns to the 
College ; first in granting it the teinds of Currie, and 


secondly in sending some of the young nobility of 
Scotland to be Rollock's pupils. And there is pleas- 
ing evidence that Lord Arran*s Council did not 
neglect to exercise a paternal supervision over the 
College. For the Records tell us that on the 23d 
December 1584 they authorised payment to a 
** walx-maker " {i.e. a wax-chandler) " for two torches 
bought and received from him for the convoy of the 
Provost and Bailies from the College at the lessons 
made there." With the eye of fancy we can see the 
little band of civic authorities trudging back, in the 
winter evening, with torches to guide them through 
the unlighted lanes down into the Cowgate and up 
again, after hearing Rollock teaching Rhetoric to the 
"Semi " class, and Nairn classics to the ** Bajans.'* 

Appendix A. Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney. 

From amongst the old Catholic hierarchy of Scotland the figure 
of Bishop Reid shines out, second only to that of Bishop Elphin- 
ston, in the combination of goodness with magnificence. 

Robert Reid, son of a gentleman who fell at Flodden, had 
the usual education of those times. He entered St, Salvator's 
(SL Andrews) in 1511, and, having graduated there, finished his 
education at Paris. Returning a cultured and engaging man, he 
soon became a favourite of James V., and had an extraordinary 
succession of high appointments and offices in Church and State. 
From Sub-Dean of Moray he became, in 1526, Abbot of Kinloss ; 
in addition to this^ in 1532, he was made one of the Senators of 
the College of Justice, then being established. Next, he was 
employed on several embassies : four times to the Papal Court, 
three times to the Court of Francis I,, and three times to that 
of Henry VHI. In 1541 he was recommended by James V. to 
the Pope for the See of Orkney, as one " well fitted to repair the 


evil condition of those polar islands, in which the Catholic faith 
and even the laws of Scotland were but little observed." But, as 
the King suggested, he was to retain his other benefices, the 
Abbey of Kinloss, and the Priory of Beauly (which he held in 
commendani)^ that out of their revenues he might provide a pension 
of 800 merks for His Majest3^s natural son, John Stewart ! Not- 
withstanding the spiritual destitution of the northern islands, 
which had now become his diocese, Reid was by no means 
permitted to devote himself entirely to their care. Both in 1541 
and 1542 he was at the Court of Henry VIII. ; after the death 
of James V., in 1542, he was appointed one of the Privy Council 
of the Regent Arran; in 1548, on the death of Abbot Myln, he 
was made Lord President of the College of Justice; in 155 1 he 
was a Commissioner for settling the peace between Scotland and 
England; in 1554 he was appointed one of the Curators of the 
youthful Queen ; in the same year he was at Paris with reference 
to the affairs of the Duke of Chastelherault ; in 1555 he was 
appointed a Commissioner for the introduction of a universal 
standard of weights and measures ; in 1556 he was at Carlisle for 
settling the disputes of the Border; and in 1558 he was sent to 
Paris by the Estates as one of their Commissioners to sign the 
marriage-contract and witness the nuptials of Mary Queen of 
Scots with the Dauphin of France. 

Such were some of the external facts of the life of Reid, 
showing the multifarious functions performed in the sixteenth 
century by a high ecclesiastic, who could be at the same time an 
Abbot and a Bishop, and the head of the judicial establishment 
of Scotland, and yet also have the most important special com- 
missions entrusted to him from time to time. Of Bishop Reid*s 
personal character two pictures have come down to us ; the one 
drawn by the pen of a powerful detractor ; the other to be found 
in the eulogies of perhaps too appreciative dependants. Between 
these two representations of him the court of posterity has to 
decide ; and certainly the evidence of his recorded actions seems 
greatly to preponderate in his favour. 

Reid*s last mission was in every way disastrous. On his 
voyage to France he was shipwrecked near Boulogne, and losing 
his rich equipage, was with difficulty saved, together with the 
Earl of Rothes, in the ship's boat At the ceremony of Mary 


Stuart's marriage the Scotch Commissioners were invited by the 
Guises to give their consent to a clause in the contract, securing 
the " crown matrimonial " to the Dauphin, that is, making him 
King of Scotland, if he should be predeceased by his wife. This 
they all refused to sign, as being beyond their instructions, and it 
was commonly supposed that, in revenge for this patriotic firm- 
ness, the Commissioners were poisoned at Dieppe, by the order 
either of Catherine de Medicis or one of the Guise family. John 
Knox relates the story with malignant pleasantry ; he says : *^ The 
most part of the Lords that were in France at the Queen's 
marriage, though they got their congb from the Court, y^f they 
forgot to return to Scotland, For whether it was by an Italian 
posset, or by the French figs, or by the potage of their potinger 
(he was a Frenchman), there departed from this life the Earl of 
Cassilis, the Earl of Rothes, Lord Fleming, and the Bishop of 
Orkney, whose end was even according to his life."^ It so 
happened that out of the number of the Commissioners two great 
Lords of Congregation, Lord James Stuart, afterwards the Regent 
Murray, and Sir John Erskine of Dun, escaped the effects of 
the alleged poison, and together with Beatoun, Archbishop of 
Glasgow, and Lord Seton, Provost of Edinburgh, got safe home. 
Knox therefore could afford to make merry over the fate of the 
rest For the murder of a Catholic Bishop he was not likely to 
express either pity or reprobatioa It would be out of the 
question to expect that Knox, in his stem controversial writing, lit 
up by flashes of grim humour, should stop to do justice to all the 
good that there was in a man like Reid. It would be like expect- 
ing appreciation to be shown in the fiercest article of a party news- 
paper towards one of the chiefs of the opposite side in politics. 

Knox had one grievous charge to bring against Reid, namely, 
that he had sat with other Bishops and Lords on the trial of the 
unfortunate Adam Wallace, who was burned for heresy on the 
Castlehill of Edinburgh in 1550; and that Reid did not support 
the protest uttered on that occasion by the Earl of Glencaim against 
the cruel sentence.^ All that we can now say is, that such were 
those times. The gentlest spirits on both sides of the religious con- 
troversy were ready to condemn their opponents to martyrdom. 

When Knox said that Bishop Reid's " end was even according 

^ Laing's edition of ATfiur, vol. i. p. 263. ' Ibid,^ i. p. 24a 

VOL, I. M 


to his life," he probably alluded to his declining to listen to the 
" exhortations " of Lord James Stuart, who visited him when he 
was dying. " Nay, my Lord," said Reid, " let me alone ; for you 
and I never agreed in our life, and I think that we shall not 
agree now at my death; and therefore let me alone. "^ But 
Knox added another gossiping touch to his account of Reid's 
death, which he may also have had in view when he said that 
his "end was even according to his life." He tells us that Reid, 
when his illness came on, " caused his bed to be made betwixt 
his two coffers. Such was his god ; the gold that therein was 
inclosed, that he would not depart from, so long as memory 
would serve him." If the fact, as stated, be true, the simple 
interpretation of it would seem to be, that a sick man may 
naturally feel anxious about the money which he has with him in 
a foreign town. But at all events it appears a most extraordinary 
thing, in the face of all that is recorded about Bishop Reid, to 
charge him with avarice. 

In turning to the opposite view of Reid's character, we may 
notice in passing the more generous view taken by George 
Buchanan (in relating the Dieppe affair) of the four Commis- 
sioners who died. He says that they were "omnes summa 
virtute et caritate in patriam." 

Many details of the life of Reid have been recorded for us 
by Joannes Ferrerius, a Piedmontese scholar, whom in 1528 
Reid, when returning from an embassy to Rome, brought back 
with him to Scotland For three years the Abbot (as he then 
was) kept Ferrerius as a companion at the Scottish Court in 
Edinburgh, and then sent him down to Kinloss to instruct the 

^ This shows that personally Reid remained satisfied with his own religion. 
Principal Lee {Inaugural Addresses^ p. 69) expressed the opinion that Reid was 
" not unfriendly '' to Reforming principles. But there is no evidence of this. 
Among Reid*s books, marked with his book-plate, was one which came into 
possession of the late Dr. John Stuart, Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries 
of Scotland, and with this book Reid may possibly have sympathised. It was 
a volume of the works of Wicelius, a German divine, who first joined Luther, 
and afterwards, becoming disgusted, went back to his old Church, for which 
Luther persecuted him and had him imprisoned. " The writings of Wicelius," 
says Stuart, " seem to have commended themselves to those of the Reformers 
who were desirous of some comprehensive scheme which should keep in com- 
munion the members of the Roman and Protestant Churches.** See Stuart's 
Records of the Monastery of Kinloss ^ Preface, p. liv. 


monks.^ Ferrerius, with an interval of two years, remained in 
Bishop Reid's service at Kinloss till 1545 — altogether fifteen 
years; and he tells us a good deal about Reid's enlightened 
splendour, of which, in answer to Knox, we will here collect a 
few instances In all the places with which he was ecclesiasti- 
cally connected — Kinloss, Beauly, and Kirkwall — Reid left 
memorials of himself in the shape of architectural buildings for 
pious uses. At Kinloss he built a spacious fire-proof library, and 
added several other buildings to the monastery. At Beauly he 
built a nave for the church, and restored the bell-tower ; he also 
erected " a noble, spacious house " for the Prior, in place of one 
that was ruinous. At Kirkwall he enlarged the Cathedral Church, 
and added to it a fine porch. He built St 01ave*s Church in 
Kirkwall, and also a large College for instructing the youth of 
Orkney in Grammar, Philosophy, and Mathematics. And he 
added a stately tower to his episcopal palace there, on which a 
half-effaced effigy of himself is still to be seen. Besides these 
creations in stone and lime he settled two considerable funds to 
be given yearly : the one for the maintenance of gentlemen's sons 
at the Universities of Aberdeen, St. Andrews, and Glasgow, " that 
had good spirits, but had not whereupon to prosecute their 
studies "; * the other for providing " dowries for young women of 
humble fortune, that they might be settled in honourable mar- 

^ The list of Lectures given by Ferrerius in the Chapter-house of Kinloss 
is very interesting (see Stuart's Records^ p. 54). It was quite a University 
coarse ; he taught no Greek, but the best Latin authors, and the greater part 
of Aristotle in Latin translations. He used Melanchthon's works on Grammar 
and Rhetoric, and compendiums of Arithmetic and Logic written by himself. 
In Theology he taught St Jerome's Letter to PaulinuSy the First Psalm, the 
Fourth Book of the Sentences^ and the mystical writings of St. Dionysius. It 
is observable here that ** the First Psalm " was the only part of Scripture on 
which Ferrerius then lectured, but in 1537 he returned for a time to Paris ; 
and he thence reported to his patron a change which he observed in the 
teaching of the University. ** The Old and New Testament," he says, ** after 
mature consultation of theologians and of the supreme Senate, are now every- 
where in men's hands, and are daily lectured on in the public schools of 
theologians, to the great increase of true piety. " Ferrerius, after two years, 
returned to his post of instructor of the monks of Kinloss. And in the list of 
his Lectures during this second period we observe that he lectured on St. 
Paul's EpistU to the Romans, This shows that a study of the Scriptures had 
been forced by Luther upon the Catholics in self-defence. 

* Mackenzie : Lives of Scottish Writers^ vol. iiL p. 47. 



riage." And it was said that he died " to the great regret ot 
many learned men whom his munificence was supporting at 
the Universities of France." Two minor instances of Reid's 
/uyaAor/jcrtM may be added from the records of Ferrerius. In 
1538 he brought to Kinloss a famous painter, named Andrew 
Bairhum, who painted altar-pieces for three Chapels in the Church; 
those of the Magdalen, St John the Evangelist, and St Thomas 

of Canterbury. And about the same time he imported another 
artist in a different department, one William Lubias, a gardener 
from Dieppe, who was skilful in the planting and grafting of fruit 
trees, and who " left tokens of his method in the improvement of 
the gardens, not only round the Abbey, but also throughout the 
whole of Moray." This rich catalogue of life-works — so well 
calculated to promote the welfare and education of individuals 
and communities, and the civilisation of the country — would 
appear to vindicate Reid against the spiteful aspereions of John 
Knox ; while at the same time it presents a contrast to the some- 
what narrow and jejune earnestness of the Reformers, 


But Reid's complete panegyric occurs in one of the Chapter 
Discourses of Adam Elder, Monk of Kinloss, printed at Paris in 
1558, perhaps during Reid's stay there during his last fatal 
embassy. Reid, as we have seen, continued to be Abbot of 
Kinloss after being raised to the See of Orkney. But in 1553 
he procured one of those family arrangements which were 
common at the time by getting his own nephew, Walter Reid, 
still a mere boy, appointed Abbot This was probably only to 
secure to him the succession, while Reid himself would retain 
the revenues and a supervision of the Abbey. To this boy- 
Abbot Adam Elder addressed an exhortation in excellent Latin, 
which was delivered before the brotherhood in their chapter-house,^ 
and which we can still read. He sets before him the examples 
of St Benedict and St Bernard, and still more urgently invites 
him to follow in the steps of his uncle, whom he sets up " not as 
a perfect character, but as a living and actual example of what is 
good and what is possible." He then draws the portrait of 
Robert Reid, which, though composed in the lifetime of that 
prelate, and intended to come to his notice, has still an air of 
sincerity about it He reminds his auditors how the good 
Bishop gladly lived in retirement when he could be free from 
the State offices imposed upon him ; how he enjoyed the reading 
of the Scriptures, realising in daily meditation the sweetness of 
the Lord, and "making his breast a library of Christ," so as to 
be stored with the food which he might impart to his sheep. 
How, possessed of the honours and riches of this world, he used 
them all as one who had to give account ; he was neither puffed 
up by them nor did he set his heart upon them.* He recalls to 
their minds, from the experience of many years, the Bishop's 
fatherly care and tenderness towards the stranger and the deso- 
late ; and addressing the young Abbot, he asks, What is all this 
but to be a true monk — to be one who lives in the world and 
yet renounces it ? Then, afler alluding to the Bishop's works of 
charity and benevolence, he descants upon his love of literature. 
He says : " All riches he cares not for in comparison with his 
beloved libraries. Neither castles, nor palaces, nor buildings of 

' Sec Stuart's Records^ pp. 79-84. 

' " Divitiis affluentibus animum non apponit '* — the direct contradictory of 
the calumny of Knox. 


fair architecture, nor gold, nor silver, nor lands, nor horses, nor 
raiment, nor gems, does he prefer to good books." Truly we 
may say that if all the praises of Reid which this discourse con- 
tains were not literally deserved (though we have no reason for 
thinking that they were not), still the very fact of such an ideal 
of life being entertained by a monk of Kinloss in the sixteenth 
century is a strong testimony in favour of him who, as Abbot, 
had given its tone to the fraternity. 

Among his exhortations to Walter Reid to follow the 
example of his uncle. Elder uses one or two phrases which now, 
for a reason connected with our history, have a peculiar signifi- 
cance. He says : " At all events, do not let his magnificence be 
tarnished by your indolence and sloth." And he adds the warn- 
ing : " If you disregard my words, as I hope you will not, you will 
not only bring yourself and your flock into peril, but you will 
stamp upon yourself a mark of perpetual disgrace and ignominy." 
Unfortunately, in the matter of Reid's bequest for a College in 
Edinburgh, his nephew Walter did really "tarnish his magnifi- 
cence " by want of diligence in carrying out the provisions of the 
will What hindrances there may have been we know not, but 
at all events five -and -twenty years elapsed after Reid's death 
before any part of this particular legacy was paid And thus a 
certain " stamp of disgrace " has come to be affixed to the name 
of Walter, Abbot of Kinloss,^ 

Bishop Reid had resided a good deal in Edinburgh, either in 
attendance on King James V. or in performance of his duties, 
first as Senator and afterwards as President of the College of 
Justice, and as he had benefited and connected his name with 
all the seats of his ecclesiastical offices, so he appears to have 
determined not to depart from this life without benefiting Edin- 
burgh, the place where his high secular functions had been per- 
formed, and leaving a memorial of himself here. His will was 

^ It is stated in the History of the Earldom of Sutherland (p. 137) that Reid 
" left a great sum of money for building the {sic) College of Edinburgh, which 
the Earl of Morton converted to his own use and profit, by punishing the 
Executors of Bishop Reid for supposed crimes." But there is no record of 
Abbot Walter Reid having been punished. He was one of those dignitaries 
of the Old Church who signed the first Covenant in 1560. He alienated a 
great part of the Abbey lands of Kinloss. Being a reformed Abbot he mar- 
ried Margaret Collace, by whom he had several children. See Stuart's 
Records^ p. 56. 


signed in Edinburgh in February 1557. In it he bequeathed 
his library to the Abbey of Kinloss, and left the sum of 8000 
merks,^ " for founding a College in the burgh of Edinburgh, for 
exercise of learning therein." 

This sum he devised " to buy the tenement, with the yards 
and appurtenances, of the late Sir John Ramsay, Knight, lying on 
the south side of the burgh of Edinburgh, in order to build a 
College, in which were to be three schools — one for the bairns 
in Grammar; another for those learning Poetry and Oratory, 
with chambers for the Regents, a Hall and other necessary 
buildings ; and the third school for the teaching of the Civil and 
Canon Laws."* And this was appointed to be carried out under 
the advice of James Makgill of Rankelour Nether, Clerk of 
Register ; Thomas Makcalyean of Clifton Hall, one of the Judges 
of the Court of Session; and Abraham Crichton, Provost of 

Reid, not being Bishop of Edinburgh, would probably never 
think of founding a University there; such a thing would not 
occur to him as possible. Therefore he did not apply to the 
Pope for a Bull, or to the Regent for a charter. What he pur- 
posed to do was simply to leave money for founding one of those 
schools of " Arts and Jure " contemplated by the Act of James 
V. (see above, p. 27). It was to be a College for the study of 
Latin Literature, and Civil and Canon Law, with a High 
School department for preparing the Students in Latin as their 
first stage. Such would in itself, and in default of a University, 
have been a very useful institution in Edinburgh. Reid evidently 
did not intend his College to have degree-giving powers. He 
speaks of "the Regents," but only in the sense of "College 
Tutors." He probably expected that Graduates from St Andrews 
would be engaged to teach in his College. 

But his ideas and wishes were all completely frustrated. 
Eighteen years after Reid*s death, in 1576, "letters were raised" 
before the Privy Council sitting at Holyrood House, under the 
Presidency of Regent Morton, to compel his executors to do 

^ " The sum of foar thousand merks which he had in wadset {i.f. mortgage) 
on the lands of Strathnaver, when it should be recovered, and also other four 
thousand merks of his goods and gear." 

» See the Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, edited by John Hill 
Burton, LL.D. (1878), vol. ii. p. 528 ; from which the above is modernised. 


their duty — the King's Advocate moving the petition. After 
hearing of the case the Council cite John Reid of Aikenhead, 
Walter, Abbot of Kinloss ; and Sir John Anderson — the only three 
surviving executors — ^to produce the said sum of 8000 merks. 
Reid of Aikenhead and Sir J. Anderson appear by procurators, 
and declare that they had never accepted or acted in the office of 
executors. The whole responsibility then rested with the Abbot 
of Kinloss ; and, " the said Abbot being oftentimes called and 
not appearing, my Lord Regent's Grace, with advice of the said 
Lords, decerns the said Walter, Abbot of Kinloss, to exhibit, 
deposit, and consign into the hands of such person as His Grace 
shall appoint, the said sum of 8000 merks, to be employed to 
the effect above written, according to the will of the Deed, or 
otherwise ad pios usus" 

All in vain ; six years more passed away, and then, oa the 
nth April 1582 the Privy Council, sitting at Stirling under the 
Presidency of the young King himself, heard a petition from the 
Town Council of Edinburgh which set forth the legacy ; its non- 
payment ; the " letters directed " under Morton's regency ; that 
the money was still unpaid ; and that all the persons under whose 
advice the College was to have been erected were dead. " Which 
being read, heard, and considered by the King's Majesty and the 
said Lords, and His Highness willing to have the will of the Deed, 
tending to so godly use, fulfilled, and to hold hand thereto, so 
far as in him lies," His Majesty therefore gives full powers to the 
Town Council ; places them in the same position of authority in 
respect of the College which Reid's will had assigned to Makgill, 
Makcalyean, and Crichton; and enjoins them to pursue and 
recover the money and bestow it according to the will of the 
Deed, within the space of one year, without further delay." ^ 

It will be observed that this order enjoined the Town 
Council to carry out Bishop Reid's wishes without giving them 
any latitude, and had they in 1582 received full payment of the 
legacy they might have held themselves constrained to do so. 
But it would appear that after the Stirling decree, " at the request 
of our Sovereign Lord, and for other good and weighty considera- 

* Register of the Privy Council^ edited by David Masson, LL.D., Professor 
of Rhetoric and English Literature in the University of Edinburgh (1880), vol. 
iii. pp. 472-74. The above is modernised. 

ISI2.] KIRK -OF -FIELD. 169 

tions," they compromised matters with Abbot Walter Reid for 
the sum of 2500 merks out of 4000 merks of the legacy, the 
other 4000 being apparently not realisable. And this amount of 
2500 merks was paid to the Town Council in instalments, 700 
merks in 1583, and 1800 merks in 1587. They had probably 
obtained leave to apply these minor sums, as they fell in, to the 
uses of the Town's College. And so it came to pass that the 
only memorial of Bishop Reid's munificent purpose to endow a 
College " of Arts and Jure " in Edinburgh, existed for some time 
(though it has long since passed away) in the name given to '* four- 
teen littie chambers," which formed part of the original College 
buildings, and which were called '^ the old Reid chambers." 

Appendix R Kirk-of-Field. 

The town of Edinburgh was for many centuries a mere strip, 
running along the ridge of a height from the Castle down towards 
Holyrood. It was defended on the north side by the piece of 
water called "the Nor* Loch," which lay where now are the 
Princes Street Gardens. Along the south side was " the Cowgate 
Loch," all the hollow of the Cowgate being filled with water, 
which served instead of a wall to the town. 

On the rising ground to the south of the Cowgate there were 
three religious establishments ; the Monastery of the Black Friars 
to the east, occupying, to speak roughly, the site of the old Royal 
Infirmary down to the Cowgate; the Monastery of the Grey 
Friars on the site of the present Greyfriars* Church and Church- 
yard ; and the Collegiate Church of " St Mary in the Fields," 
occup3ring most of the space between the other two, and extend- 
ing from where Drummond Street is now diagonally to what is 
now the middle of Chambers Street After the battle of Flodden 
it was thought necessary, for the safety of these religious houses, 
''to have the town wall drawn about without them;^ and so, 
drying the Cowgate Loch, they enlarged the town on the south 
side." It was only a year previous to this (in 15 12) that "the 
Church of the Blessed Mary in the Fields " — so called from 
having been originally planted outside the town's defences, and 

^ Craufurd's Memoirs, 


in the country — became a Collegiate Church, with a Provost 
and Prebendaries. The date of its original foundation is not 
known, but its name b said^ to occur in documents of the 
thirteenth century. In 15 12 the church obtained, through 
private benefactions, a great extension of site, houses for 
the Provost and Chaplains, and a full collegiate establishment 
David Vocat, the celebrated Master of the Grammar School of 
Edinburgh, was one of its benefactors, and became a Prebendary 
of the church. 

But its glory was short-lived. The " Flodden Wall " did not 
suffice to protect the religious houses. " The Duke of Somerset 
and his heretical host, fresh from their victory at Pinkie Cleuch 
(1547), made an end of the Monastery of Blackfriars and its 
pleasure grounds; and the Kirk-of-Field, too, suffered wofully 
in the cruel raids of 1544 and 1547."^ 

In 155s, during the Provostship of Alexander Forrest (who 
was only fourth Provost of the Kirk-of-Field) he and his Pre- 
bendaries " considering that their houses, especially the Hospital 
annexed and incorporated with their College, were burnt down 
and destroyed by their auld enemies of England, so that nothing 
of their said Hospital was left, but they (sic) are altogether waste 
and utterly destroyed ; wherethrough the Divine worship is not 
a little decreased in the College ; and because they were unable 
to rebuild the said Hospital ;" therefore they granted in feu to 
James, Duke of Chastelherault, " the tenement or hospital with 
the yards and pertinents thereof, for the purpose of erecting a 
mansion-house there for his own use.'' 

We have already related (above, pp. 128-29) ^^^ subsequent 
history of " Hamilton House," as it was called, which the Duke 
built upon this site : how on the forfeiture of the Hamilton family 
it was purchased by the Town Council, and so came to be the 
main building of the College of Edinburgh, in which were 
located the public auditorium, and the class-rooms of Philosophy ; 
and how, being claimed back by the Marquis of Hamilton, in 
161 2, it had to be paid for a second time. 

The Hospital having been burned down, and many of the old 

^ See David Laing*s ColUgiate Churches of Mid-Lothian (published by the 

Bannatyne Club), from which most of the above particulars have been gathered. 

« Reminiscences of Old Edinburgh^ by Daniel Wilson (1878), vol. ii. p. 293. 


i6i7.] JAMES VI. AT STIRLING. 171 

buildings ruined, the great Church of Kirk-of-Field still stood ; 
but in 1558 the Earl of Argyll, with a band of the "Congregation," 
threw down its altars and burned the images. Then came the 
Reformation, and laws making the Mass illegal And it was in 
thb state of things that John Penicuik, fifth Provost, negotiated 
in 1563 with the Town Council for selling them the whole 
buildings, ground, and revenues of the Kirk-of-Field for ;^iooo 
Scots. This transaction was apparently never carried out ; and 
in 1564 we read that Penicuik was "taking down the stone- 
work of the Kirk-of-Field," and was " minded to sell it" Most 
probably this process was continued by the succeeding Provosts, 
Robert Balfour (during whose Provostship Damley was blown up 
in an outbuilding of the Kirk-of-Field) and John Gib, the King's 
valet, who had the Provostry bestowed upon him in 1579. So 
that when the Town Council in 1582 got possession of the site 
they would not have much of the central church to clear 
away. It was very likely all gone by that time. Its original 
position had been about the centre of the present University 

The Provost's lodging corresponded with the east comer of 
the present library. There Balfour lived, and Gib feued the 
house to one John Fenton, an office clerk, who held it for many 
years after the College had been opened. When the Town 
Council got possession of it it was made the Principal's lodging, 
and continued to be so till the beginning of the present century. 
Some have supposed that it was in this house that Damley's 
murder took place. But Craufurd, who must have known, says 
distinctly that it was " to the east from thence, in the Prebend- 
aries' chambers," that is, on the site corresponding with the 
present north-west comer of Dmmmond Street. 

Appendix C. Disputation at Stirling. 

(Extracted from Craufurd^ s Memoirs^ pp. 81-87.) 

"The King's Majesty had ane earnest desire to honour the 
CoUedge with his presence, and hearing an publick disputation 
in Philosophy ; but the multitude of business distracting him all 
the time he was at Holyroodhouse, it pleased his Majesty to 


appoint the Maisters of the Colledge to attend him at Sterling, 
the 29th day of July, where, in the Royal Chapel, his Majesty, 
with the flower of the nobility, and many of the most learned men 
of both nations, were present a little before five of the clock, and 
continued with much cheerfuUness above three hours. Mr. 
Henry Charteris (then Principal of the Colledge) being naturally 
averse from publick showes, and Professor of Divinity, moved 
that Mr. John Adamson (then minister at Libberton) should pre- 
side in the disputation. Mr. James Fairly was chosen to draw 
and defend the theses; Mr. Patrick Sands (sometime Regent, 
but at that time attending the Tolbooth), Mr. Andrew Young, 
Mr. James Reid, and Mr. William King, the other three Regents 
professing Philosophy for the time, were appoynted to impugne. 
They divided the theses, each of them chusing three ; but they 
insisted only upon such purposes as was conceived would be 
most acceptable to the King's Majesty and the auditory. 

"The speciall purposes agitate were, first, the theses, That 
SherilTs and other inferior Magistrates ought not to be hereditary ; 
oppugned by Mr. Sands, with many pretty arguments. 

** The King was so well pleased with the answers, that, after 
he himself had pressed some arguments to the contrary, and the 
defender had directed his answers to Mr. Sands, his Majesty, 
turning to the Marques of Hamilton, who was standing behind 
his chair, and at that time was Heritable Sherifif of Clydesdale, 
' James (said he), you see your cause lost, and all that can be 
said for it clearly satisfied and answered.' 

"Mr. Young who disputed next, insisted upon* the Nature 
of Local Motion, pressing many things by clear testimonies of 
Aristotle's text To which, when the defender made his answers 
and cleared the purpose, the King said to some English Doctors 
which were near to him, * These men know Aristotle's mind as 
well as himself did while he lived.' 

" Mr. Reid disputed third, anent the Original of Fountains. 
The King being much taken with his last argument, notwith- 
standing the time allotted (three quarters of an houre) was spent, 
caused him prosecute the piuT)ose. His Majesty himself some- 
time speaking for the impugner, and sometime for the defender, 
in good Latin, and with much knowledge of the secrets of 

i6i7.] JAMES VI. AT STIRLING. 173 

" Mr. King, who disputed last, had his dissertation, De Spon- 
taneo et Invito. In the which, and in all the rest, the King let 
no argument nor answer passe without taking notice thereof, and 
speaking to the purpose, with much understanding and good 

'' After the disputation, his Majesty went to supper, and after 
a very little time commanded the Maisters of the CoUedge of 
Edinburgh to be brought before him. In their presence he dis- 
coursed very learnedly of all the purposes which had been 

" Then he fell to speak of the actors. * Methinks (said he), 
these gentlemen, by their very names, have been destinated for 
the acts which they have had in hand to-day. Adam was father 
of all; and very fitly Adamson had the first part of this acL 
The defender is justly called Fairly : his theses had some fair 
lies, and he sustained them very fairly, and with many fair lies 
given to the oppugners. And why should not Mr. Sands be the 
first to enter the sands ; but now I clearly see that all sands are 
not barren, for certainly he hath shewen a fertile wit Mr. 
Young is very old in Aristotle. Mr. Reid need not be red with 
blushing for his acting to-day. Mr. King disputed very kingly, 
and of a kingly purpose, anent the royal supremacy of reason 
over anger and all passions. I am so well satisfied with this day's 
exercise, that I will be godfather to the Colledge of Edinburgh, 
and have it called the Colledge of King James ; for after the 
founding of it had been stopped for sundry years in my minority, 
so soon as I came to any knowledge, I zealously held hand to it, 
and caused it to be established ; and although I see many look 
upon it with an evil eye, yet I will have them to know that, hav- 
ing given it this name, I have espoused its quarelL' 

" One who stood by, told his Majesty that there was one of 
the company of whome he had taken no notice, Mr. Henry 
Charteris, Principal of the Colledge (who sate upon the Presi- 
dent's right hand), a man of exquisite and universal learning, 
although not so forward to speak in publick in so august an 
assembly. *Well,' answered the King, *his name agreeth very 
well to his nature, for charters contain much matter, yet say 
nothing, but put great purposes in men's mouths.' These who 
stood by the King's chair, commended his Majestie's witty allu- 


sions to the actor's names ; whereupon his Majesty pressed that 
the same should be turned into verse, wherein his Majesty both 
delighted much and had an singular faculty. Some of these 
versions (both in English and Latin verses) were written by such 
as heard them, and thereafter printed. 

"One of the English Doctors, wondering at his Majest/s 
readiness and eligancy in the Latin style, ' All the world (said 
he), knows that my maister, Mr. George Buchanan, was a great 
maister in that faculty. I follow his pronounciation both of the 
Latin and Greek, and am sorrie that my people of England doe 
not the like : For certainly their pronounciation utterly spoils the 
grace of these two learned languages ; but ye see all the University 
and learned men of Scotland express the true and native pro- 
nounciation of both.' His Majesty continued his discourse anent 
the purposes of the dispute till ten o'clock at night, and professed 
that he was exceedingly satisfied therewith, and promised, that 
as he had given the Colledge a name, he would also, in time 
convenient, give to it a Royall God-baime gift (as we say), for 
enlarging the patrimony thereof. He took occasion of the pur- 
poses ventilate that day, to speak of diverse poynts of philosophy, 
with much subtilitie and variety of knowledge, to the admiration 
of the understanding hearers ; and being on his return to Eng- 
land, wrote back a letter to the Honourable Council of the Good 
Town, wherein he both renewed his Royall pleasure for calling 
the Colledge after his name. King James his Colledge, and his 
promise of a Royall God-baime gift, which, it is hoped, that his 
Royall Grandchild, King Charles the Second,^ will, in time con- 
venient, royally perforna." 

Craufurd's simple aspiration shows that James VL never 
fulfilled his fine promises of a royal gift to his god-child, the 
College. Nor were those promises redeemed, or likely to be 
redeemed, by Charles II. James VL, immediately after the 
opening of the College of Edinburgh, had granted towards its 
maintenance the revenues of the Vicarage of Currie. Beyond 
this he did no more for the College than his grandson, Charles 

^ The concluding words of the graphic record show that Craufurd, who 
died in 1662, must have been engaged shortly after the Restoration in putting 
together his Memoirs, the materials for which, doubtless, existed in contem- 
porary notes jotted down from year to year. 

i6i7.] JAMES VI. AT STIRLING. 175 

IL, did for the Royal Society — that is, he gave it a name. 
" Very different," says Principal Lee,^ " was the conduct of James 
towards Universities in other parts of his dominions. Not to 
mention what he did for Oxford, it is stated by Mr. Taylor, in his 
late History of the University of Dublin^ that King James settled 
on Trinity College, which is ten years junior to ours, a pension 
payable out of the Exchequer, and also endowed it with large 
estates in the province of Ulster." 

Though the King,, no doubt, felt a lively pleasure in hearing 
the theses of the Regents, and in showing off his own erudition 
at the Stirling Disputation, he was too volatile and selfish to 
entertain any settled purpose of promoting the development of 
the College of Edinburgh as a seat of learning. He had many 
spiteful feelings towards Scotland,^ recalling the severities and the 
masterful attitude of Buchanan, the indignities which he had 
sustained at the hands of Scottish subjects, and the way in 
which he had been lectured and preached at by the Ministers. 
He was not likely to be zealous about the aggrandisement of a 
College, the foundation of which had been so greatly due to the 
Ministers of Edinburgh, and in the government of which they 
were associated. If any impulse or opportunity to endow the 
College arose, there would be a counter-instinct that it would be 
better to keep it in a humble and dependent position. 

With regard to other relations of King James VI. to the 
College of Edinburgh, we shall in the next chapter show reason 
for conjecturing that he interfered in 1590 so as to frustrate the 
intentions of the College of Justice and the Town Council with 
regard to the foundation of a Professorship of Laws. He certainly 
interfered in a most arbitrary manner thirty-two years later. The 
office of Principal being then vacant, the Town Council bethought 

* InaugurtU Addresses in the University of Edinburgh (1861), p. 75. 

* James VI., in a speech at Whitehall, 31st March 1607, showed the 
cynical shrewdness of his thoughts about Scotland, and complete absence of 
any £Eivour or affection for the land of his birth. He said : " Consider there- 
fore well if the minds of Scotland had not need to be well prepared to per- 
suade their mutual consent, seeing you here have all the great advantage of 
the Union. Is not here the personal residence of the King, his court and 
family ? Is not here the seat of justice and the fountain of government ? 
Must they not be subjected to the laws of England, and so with time become 
bat as Cumberland and Northumberland, and those other remote and northern 


themselves of securing for the place Robert Boyd of Trochrig, 
who was at the time Principal of the College of Glasgow. Boyd 
was an accomplished man, author of a Commentary on the 
Ephestans^ and of some Latin poems ; he was son of the Arch- 
bishop of Glasgow, and had considerable private fortune. He 
liked the offers of the Town Council of Edinburgh, and in 1622 
came over to hold the joint-offices of Principal of the College 
and City Minister, on a salary of 1400 merks. But his appoint- 
ment was distasteful to the King. Boyd in early life had been 
Professor of Divinity at Saumur, and among the French Pro- 
testants had imbibed their antipathy to ceremonies. In 1618 he 
opposed the Articles of Perth, and refused to conform to them. 
In December 1622, as soon as Boyd had been appointed to 
Edinburgh, there came a letter from James VI. remonstrating 
with the Town Council, and commanding them to urge Boyd to 
conform, or else to remove him. The Council deprecated this 
proceeding, urging the "gifts and peaceable disposition " of Mr. 
Robert On the 31st January 1623 the King's answer was 
received : " On the contrary, we think his biding there will do 
much evil ; and therefore, as ye will answer to us on your obedi- 
ence, we command you to put him not only from his office, but 
out of your town, at the sight hereof, unless he conform totally. 
And when ye have so done, think not this sufficient to satisfy 
our wrath for disobedience to our former letter." This being 
intimated to Boyd, he resigned, and was afterwards confined 
within the bounds of Carrick. 

Appendix D. Academy of Geneva. 

If the peculiar constitution and government of the College 01 
Edinburgh was not suggested by what Scotchmen knew of the 
Academy of Geneva, there was at all events a coincidence of 
ideas entertained by the founders of the two institutions. A 
few particulars will illustrate this point. 

In 1 541 Calvin began to give lectures on Theology in 
Geneva which attracted many Students. In 1542 he proposed 
to the Municipal Council to form an Academy where the citizens 
and strangers might make solid and complete studies. After 


many years, and repeated representations, the Council in 1558 
determined on building a College. This was done by means of 
an appeal to the citizens for subscriptions. The virtuous Bonni- 
vard, the " Prisoner of Chillon," in a will, dated 1558, left all his 
property for maintenance of the new College. 

In 1559, when Geneva was full of Scotchmen, the regulations 
of the Academy were published in the Church of St. Peter before 
a crowd of citizens and strangers, on which occasion Calvin 
made an harangue. All appointments to office in the Academy 
were to be made by the Venerable Company of Pastors, subject 
to the confirmation of the Municipal Council And this arrange- 
ment resembles that afterwards made in Edinburgh, where the 
Town Council were to have the appointment of all Professors 
and Teachers, but were to act with the advice of the Ministers. 

The chief Magistrate read the Confession of Faith to be 
subscribed by Professors, Regents, and Students, and declared 
the names of office-bearers. 

Theodore Beza had been elected Rector by the Pastors, and 
his election had been confirmed. Calvin had been elected 
Professor of Theology.^ Then there was a Professor of Hebrew, 
one of Greek, and one of Philosophy or Arts, who appears to 
have taught Latin, and to have resembled the Regent of Humanity 
in the College of Edinburgh. Then there were seven Regents, 
of whom the highest was called Principal of the College, and who 
was to regulate its internal discipline, in concert with and under 
orders from the Rector. The chief Magistrate was to hold the 
title of Archigrammateus, or Chancellor. 

Many of these arrangements found their counterpart in the 
College of Edinburgh. There also a Rector was, for a time at 
least, appointed to supervise the Principal, and this Rector was, 
as at Geneva, distinct from the chief Magistrate, who had 
powers analogous to those of Chancellor, till an ambitious 
Lord Provost absorbed both offices in his own person. We 
may notice that in Edinburgh, so long as a separate Rector 
was allowed to exist, it was part of his duties to keep the matricu- 
lation roll ; and this in Geneva was called the " livre du Recteur." 

It was Calvin's idea to establish a seminary of Ministers for 
Geneva and Dauphind, with a good school attached. And the 

^ He taoght in this capacity, but declined the title of Professor. 
VOL. I. N 


seven Regents were in fact teachers of the seven classes in this 
school which was called Schola Privata^ while the Academy 
proper, taught by Professors, was called Schola Publico, The 
High School in Edinburgh may be said to have filled the place 
of the Schola Privata at Geneva. 

Two Professors of Law, of whom Henry Scrimger was one, 
were soon added to the Academy of Geneva. And that institu- 
tion, like the College of Edinburgh, seems without any authorisa- 
tion to have assumed the power of giving degrees. For we learn 
that in 1591 the Universities of the United Provinces agreed to 
recognise the Doctors of Divinity, Law, and Medicine, of Geneva, 
as holding degrees equally valid with those of other Universities. 
We have seen above (p. 125) that the Academy of Geneva failed 
to obtain recognition as a University from the King of France.^ 

On the whole, it may be said that the founders and adminis- 
trators of the Academy of Geneva set an example of confounding 
the functions and titles of a University with those proper to a 
College — which example the post-Reformation educationists of 
Scotland persistently followed. 

Appendix E, Montague College and the Scots College. 

During the fourteenth and fifteenth, and the early part of the 
sixteenth century, these two Colleges were resorted to by a great 
number of Scotsmen seeking the instruction of the University of 
Paris. Thus, one or other of these Colleges had a hand in the 
training of most of the eminent Ecclesiastics, Lawyers, University 
Professors, and Heads of Colleges in Scotland down to the time 
of the Reformation. 

Strictly speaking, Montague College was the older of the two, 
having been founded in 13 14 by the distinguished French family 
of Aicelin de Montaigu. It was originally called the " College 
des Aicelins," but its name was Latinised into Collegium Montis 
Acuti. Its attraction, however, for Scotch Students, and its 
connection with Scotland, do not date from the early period of 

* The facts mentioned in this Appendix have been derived from Senebier, 
Histoire Literaire de Geneve (178(3), and Mark Pattison's Isaac Casaubon 


1483-1 THE SCOTS COLLEGE. 179 

its history, which seems to have been by no means distinguished, 
and to have terminated in degradation towards the close of the 
fifteenth century, when it is described as having its titles lost, its 
buildings in ruins, no Students in attendance, and a total revenue 
of sixteen shillings per annum.^ But in 1483 the chapter of 
Notre Dame appointed John Standonc, a poor Flemish priest, 
who by great struggles had raised himself out of a menial position, 
to be its Principal. And then immediately under him a great 
revival of the College took place. His ideal was learned poverty 
and asceticism ; and he had already acquired sufficient reputation 
and influence to enable him to enlist the assistance of exalted 
and wealthy persons in carrying out his views. Having obtained 
the institution of many bursaries, he drew up the severest regula- 
tions for those who were to benefit by them. The Bursars were 
to do all the domestic work of the house, to wear a mean garb, 
and to subsist on a meagre diet, in which fish was the chief item, 
and from which meat was excluded. For himself, he elected to 
be styled "Minister" or "Father" of the poor, rather than 
" Principal " or " Master;" he was to get no salary, and to share 
the humble attire and hard diet of his scholars. His ardour, and 
the attraction of self-sacrifice to other ardent natures, drew eighty- 
four bursars round him ; for whom he made his College a school 
of Grammar, Philosophy, and Theology. 

Two of these bursars at the beginning of the sixteenth century 
were men of very different minds : one, Ignatius Loyola, probably 
derived from Standonc the first germs of that enthusiasm which 
prompted him to found the Jesuit fraternity ; the other, Erasmus, 
who always had a peculiar dislike to fish, looked back with 
repugnance to the asceticism of Montague College, which in one 
of his Colloquies he satirises under the name of Collegium Montis 

But the rigours of the system did not deter the hardy Scotch, 
and after Standonc's revival of it many of them flocked to Mon- 
tague College. Bishop Elphinston is supposed to have had part 
of his education there. And there were four Scotsmen, members 
of the College, who were Professors of Philosophy in the Univer- 
sity of Paris : John Mair, Hector Boece, George Lockhart, and 
William Gregory. 

* Crevier, Hisioire de V Universiti dt Paris ^ vol. v. pp. 20-29. 


The history of the " Scots College " in Paris is not without a 
certain element of romance. Its origin was connected with the 
renewal of the " Ancient League " between France and Scotland. 
In 1326 Robert the Bruce had sent over the Earl of Moray to 
the Court of Charles le Bel to conclude a treaty of "confederacy." 
The Earl was accompanied by his kinsman, the Bishop of Moray ; 
and the good Bishop took advantage of his position to do a 
service to his countrymen. He bought up the lands of Grisy, a 
village near Paris, and settled the revenues as a maintenance for 
Scotch Students of his own diocese attending the University of 
Paris. Thus was founded the "College de Grisy," or "Scots 
College." Subsequently the Bishops of Moray, retaining the 
patronage of offices in the College, appear to have opened the 
bursaries to persons from all parts of Scotland. In 1526 George 
Buchanan entered this College, having been, as is supposed, 
placed there by the bounty of John Mair. But a host of other 
Scotsmen, in the intervening two hundred years, must have 
benefited by the Scots College After the disestablishment of 
the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland the Scots College in 
Paris was looked to by Catholics in this country as a place of 
education in the old faith. And Mary Queen of Scots is said to 
have sent contributions for it from her place of captivity. 

The Scots College became the receptacle of archives con- 
veyed out of Scotland at the time of the Reformation. It had 
appropriate buildings and a chapel erected for it in the Rue des 
Fosses de S. Victor as late as 1662. In 1736 it possessed "a 
large MS. volume, called Acta Scotorum in Universitate Parisiensi^ 
compiled by its Principal, Louis Innes, brother to the famous 
Father Innes, the first critical historian of Scotland. But all these 
priceless treasures were lost in the French Revolution of 1792, 
when the Scots College was sacked by the mob. 

^ Bishop Nicolson : Scottish Historical Library, 


1 583- 1 708. 

" Parva metu primo mox sese attollit in auras." 

By many persons the terms " College " and " Uni- 
versity" appear to be regarded as synonymous. 
And this is no wonder, because the mediaeval Uni- 
versity system has been subjected to manifold 
change, and its clear outlines have been confused. 
Where Colleges existed within Universities they 
have frequently grown into greater importance than 
the Universities to which they were subsidiary. 
And elsewhere institutions have arisen partaking of 
the nature both of College and of University, so 
that it would be hard to say to which class they 
would most properly be assigned. Of old the dis- 
tinction was obvious; the University was an un- 
limited corporation, comprising sometimes as many 
as twelve or fifteen thousand persons, within a 
certain city or town, but not necessarily attached to 
any special buildings or local centre. This com- 


munity had its organised constitution, and even its 
own courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction. The 
College, on the other hand, was essentially a house ;^ 
it was a home provided for a small definite number 
of poor Scholars wishing to partake of the advan- 
tages of the University, and for Masters to supervise 
and teach them. The inmates of a College thus ' 
constituted a family, and were generally under a 
prescribed rule of life. The arrangements of the 
College were domestic, though outsiders were fre- 
quently admitted to the benefit of the lessons taught 
in it. Its teaching was for the most part of a tutorial 
character, though sometimes, as in Elphinston's 
College at Aberdeen (p. 37), specialists or Professors 
of separate subjects were added to the tutors who 
prepared the scholars for obtaining the University 
degree. The practice of employing Regents to take 
their respective classes through the whole curriculum 
of philosophy was undoubtedly a collegiate idea. 
Of course there were often many Colleges within 
one University. In some cases (pp. 12-16) the 
power of conferring degrees was granted by the Pope 
to a College, but even had this power been exercised 
it would not have made the College into a Univer- 
sity ;^ it would have still remained a domestic insti- 
tution, within the greater corporation, and lacking 

^ Owing to this primary association it seems natural now to speak 
of the buildings of a University as " the College." 

* A new-fangled and very restricted type of a University has been 
set up in quite modem times, with the solitary function of examining 
and conferring degrees. The London University was perhaps the first 
example of this type, which has also been reproduced in the Univer- 
sities of British India. 


the (at all events nominal) freedom and dignity of a 

After the Reformation Colleges were erected in 
many places where there had been previously no 
University. If a College thus standing by itself 
had degree-giving powers assigned to it, it would 
obviously partake of the character of a University, 
and by expansion it might come more and more to 
do so, though still retaining traces of its collegiate 
origin. The question then would arise at what 
point the University characteristics would so far 
predominate in the supposed institution as to make 
it inappropriate to style it **a College*' any more. 

This was precisely the case with regard to the 
College of Edinburgh. It was strictly a College to 
begin with, not because its founders always called it 
" the Town's College," but because, as we have seen 
(p. 141), they gave it a thoroughly domestic character. 
At the same time they started it with a University 
standard of instruction in Philosophy, and with the 
power of conferring the degree of Master of Arts. 
As time went on the College of Edinburgh showed 
itself equal in its teaching to the old-established 
Universities of Scotland ; Professors of various 
subjects were added to its staff, and the domestic 
side of the institution dwindled away as Students 
gradually ceased to reside within its walls. It could 
never become a University in the mediaeval sense, 
because it lacked a charter as such, and all the forms 
of a mediaeval University. But it did grow into a 
University in one of the modern senses of the term. 


that IS to say, an institution for specialised teaching 
in many subjects, and for conferring degrees in four 
Faculties. The point at which it would seem most 
proper to drop the designation of ** College," and to 
begin to speak of ** the University of Edinburgh," 
will be from that date when its patrons abolished the 
tutorial system and substituted Professors of special 
subjects for the Regents of Philosophy. During all 
the period to be described in this chapter the 
domestic and collegiate practice of " regenting " was 
continued. Thenceforward the College of Edin- 
burgh became virtually a University, and might 
properly, by courtesy, be styled so. But, with all 
its progress, it had acquired, as will be seen, no legal 
rights as a University, and had no defined consti- 

But to take up the thread of its history. The 
original staff of the College having been completed 
with a Principal, who was also Professor of 
Theology, and four Regents under him, the first 
addition to this was accompanied by mysterious cir- 
cumstances, which even conjecture cannot satisfac- 
torily explain. The simple facts as recorded were 
these : — In February 1590, after much "communing 
betwixt the Lords of Session and Town Council," a 
contract was concluded, according to which the 
Lords of Session, the Advocates and Writers to 
the Signet, and the Council, as three parties, each 
provided the sum of ;^iooo ; and the Town Council 
obliged themselves to pay ;^300 a year interest upon 
the total stock of ;^3000, towards the maintenance 


of **a Professor of the Laws." "Notwithstanding, 
Mr. Adam Newton, advocate, who was first called 
to that place, and Sir Adrian Damman, who was 
second in that charge, did only profess Humanity 
publicly in the College, without any mention of the 

From this statement we see clearly that the 
College of Justice took a kindly interest in the new- 
bom " Town s College," and that they liberally con- 
tributed in order to have the teaching of Law added 
to that of Philosophy and Theology within its walls. 
This being so, the question arises — Why was their 
design frustrated ? Why did the two persons who 
were successively first appointed to be " Professor of 
the Laws " only lecture on Greek and Latin scholar- 
ship "without any mention of the Laws".*^ The 
former of these was an advocate, which, according 
to the practice of those days, he could not have been 
without going through a course of legal study in 
some foreign University. He therefore was doubt- 
less qualified to lecture on Roman and Municipal 
Law. But neither he nor his successor did so. 

Another curious fact was this : "Mr. Adam 
Newton (who first had that charge) albeit the son of a 
burgess, yet neglected the Town Council in his entry; 
for which cause, in January 1594, he was discharged 
to teach in the College." By the terms ** neglected 
the Town Council in his entry " must be implied that 
Newton, having received his appointment from some 
source other than the Town Council, did not obtain 

* Craufurd, p. 35. 


confirmation of it from the Town Council, which, in 
terms of King James's charter (giving them the 
exclusive right of appointing Professors), would be 
necessary. But, in the first place, why did he, the 
son of a burgess, neglect this formality? And 
secondly, why did the Town Council condone his 
neglect for four years, and at the end of that time 
dismiss him from his Professorship on account of it ? 
One way there is of accounting for these 
anomalies, and that is, to attribute them to the 
arbitrary interference of the King — the only obstacle 
to this method of explanation being that James VI. 
sailed for Norway on the 2 2d October 1589, and did 
not return with his Queen till the 2d May 1590. 
The first appointment, therefore, may have been made 
in his absence. But Craufurd does not say that it 
was : he only says that in February 1 590 the con- 
tract between the Lords of Session and the Town 
Council was concluded. Both parties may have 
considered it respectful to the King to delay appoint- 
ing the first Professor of Laws till his return. If they 
did so all becomes simple, on the theory that the 
King, when the matter was brought before him, took 
the appointment out of their hands and bestowed it 
upon a favourite of his own, Adam Newton, an 
accomplished man, whom he afterwards made tutor 
to Prince Henry. If this happened, Newton would 
very naturally accept his appointment at the King s 
hands without going through the ceremony of con- 
firmation by the Town Council. The King no 
doubt regarded the Town Council as his creatures. 


and the College as his own property, and if he had 
not previously interfered in the selection of Regents, 
it was perhaps because they had ill-paid appoint- 
ments. When a new Professorship was created 
three times more valuable than an ordinary Regent- 
ship, it would be worth while for a courtier to apply 
for it, and for the King to exercise his patronage. 

This view would account for the Town Council 
putting up with the slight which they had received 
from Newton's entering upon his Professorship 
without their sanction. And it may easily be 
imagined that after four years the King, wishing to 
gratify another favourite, and meaning to provide 
otherwise for Newton, graciously signified to the 
Town Council that they were now at liberty to dis- 
charge Newton ;^ which having been done, the King 
appointed Sir Adrian Damman ^ in his place. 

On our hypothesis all would be clear about the 
two first appointments to the chair of " Laws." But 
the difficulty still remains — why, from the outset, 
did Newton never lecture upon Law ? Here, again, 
we must suppose that the Kings authority inter- 

^ It is one of the peculiarities of this affair that the City Records 
make no mention of Newton's appointment or dismissal, or of 
Danunan's appointment. 

* Sir Adrian Damman seems to have been a diplomatic adventurer. 
He was a native of Ghent, and being an excellent Latin scholar, was 
chosen by the Court of Denmark to accompany King James and his 
Queen on the voyage to Scotland, and talk Latin to the King. On 
arrival here Damman published some Latin poems,C3Mcd ScAediasma/a, 
in honour of Scotland and its King. He was made Consul for the 
Netherlands; and in 1594 he had the so-called ^* Professorship of 
Laws " given to him, which he held for three years, and then went off 
to something better on the Continent 



vened, for nothing short of this could have set aside 
the joint purpose of the Lords of Session and the 
Town Council. But why should the King have 
interfered to stop the teaching of Law in the College ? 
He may have been personally jealous (in spite of 
the fine phrases in his charter) of the development 
of a Law Faculty in the College. But another con- 
jectural explanation is also possible. It may have 
been that the Ministers of Edinburgh urged the 
King to stop the movement which had been made. 
If they did so they were only following the example 
of the Venerable Company of Pastors in Geneva, 
who had made a strong remonstrance against the 
introduction of a Law Faculty into the Academy of 
Geneva; and who, among other objections, had 
alleged that "those who apply themselves to this 
Faculty are for the most part of dissolute habits, 
being young men of quality, whose humour would 
not admit of their being subject to the discipline of 
the Church."^ 

The foregoing hypothesis of the King's interfer- 
ence in College matters is, of course, a mere shot in 
the dark ; but in our ignorance of the actual facts 
it seems to afford the only possible explanation of 
the extraordinary circumstance that the Judges and 
the Town Council having, after much deliberation 
and conference, founded a Chair of Law, they 
suffered the first two incumbents of that Chair to 
teach nothing but classics. It is not possible for us 
to conceive, as some have done, that Newton found 

^ Mark Pattison's Isaac Casaubotty p. 37. 


the Students too backward in Latin to follow his 
lectures on Law, and therefore took to giving them 
Latin lessons. Newton would find four classes in 
the College following the Latin lectures of their 
Regents in Philosophy, and therefore able to follow 
him. And indeed he was, in all probability, intended 
to lecture on Law to Students who had already 
graduated — those graduates, in short, who, not wish- 
ing to enter the Ministry, did not join RoUock's class 
in Theology. If there was any such action on the 
part of the Ministers, as we have before surmised, 
it is quite possible that Rollock took part in it, not 
wishing to see a rival school of Law started which 
might draw off Students from the school of Divinity, 
to which his whole heart was given. 

But we may now leave the field of conjecture, and 
note the actual result to the College of this curious 
episode. On Damman's resignation in 1597 the 
Town Council and the College of Justice again met 
together to consider what they should do under the 
circumstances. And they now resolved, without 
reason recorded, to give up altogether, even in name, 
the Professorship of Laws which they had endowed. 
Neither party withdrew their contribution ; the 
;^3000 was to remain in the hands of the Town 
Council, but the interest thereon (calculated at ten 
per cent) was to be differently applied. The scheme 
now adopted was that, instead of paying ;^300 for a 
Professor of Laws, ;^200 per annum should be 
employed in providing six bursaries of 50 merks 
each, and ;^ioo (Scots) should be allotted "for the 


ordinary stipend of a private Professor of Humanity." 
An addition was thus made to the College staff, but 
not of the sort which careless historians suppose. 
Dalzel, who in speaking of these times perpetually 
indulges in syncretism, or a mixing up of the old and 
new, calls the four Regents and their Principal the 
" Senatus Academicus," and tells us that " the first 
Professor of Humanity " was now appointed, suggest- 
ing that the office created in 1597 was the same as 
that which goes by the same name at the present day. 
This, however, was far from being the case. It 
must be observed that what was then created was a 
"private Professorship of Humanity;" and this 
word ** private" so far qualifies the term " Professor- 
ship " to which it was attached, that it reduces it from 
meaning what we understand by a Professorship to 
mean a mere tutorship. In the Academic language 
of those days "private" was applied to school 
teaching, or infra- University teaching, "public" to 
teaching which was up to the University standard. 
Thus the Academy of Geneva had two departments ; 
one called Schola Privata, which was, in short, a gcxxi 
grammar school ; the other called Schola Publican 
which was to all intents and purposes a University. 
We have seen before that Newton and Damman 
" professed Humanity publicly," that is, they did not 
teach it tutorially, or like schoolmasters, but lectured 
on it like University Professors. Quite in accord- 
ance with this mode of speaking the Town Council 
in 1597 instituted a "private Professor of Humanity," 
that is, an infra-Academical teacher of the subject. 


In short, they revived and made permanent the 
office which Nairn had held (see above, p. 137) during 
the first session of the College ; they provided a 
tutor to assist those who on coming to the College 
were found unfit to enter the Bajan class. The 
Regens humaniorum literarum, or Humanist, as this 
tutor was called, was not confined to teaching Latin 
(which is another note of difference from the *' Pro- 
fessor of Humanity" of the eighteenth and nine- 
teenth centuries). Teaching Latin was indeed his 
chief function, but he was also directed to teach his 
pupils the Greek grammar. To be drilled in this 
latter branch of study his class had to remain in 
College during the month of September, when all 
the other classes were away for their vacation. At 
the beginning of November they were examined 
by the other Regents and Principal for admission to 
the Bajan class. The Humanity class, till a much 
later period, was not matriculated, and was thus 
extra- Academical, as well as infra-Academical ; but 
those attending it were doubtless subject to College 

The Regent of Humanity himself had not only 
a month's more work than the other four Regents, 
to whom he served as a subsidiary, preparing 
Students for them in Latin and in the rudiments of 
Greek, but he was considered to hold a distinctly 
inferior office to them. A dispute on this point 
having arisen, the Town Council in 1625 decisively 
"ordained that the whole four Regents of Philosophy 
shall have place and precedency before the Regent 


of Humanity in all time coming." The Regent of 
Humanity was considered to be entitled to the first 
vacancy that might occur among the Regents of 
Philosophy. He was almost invariably a person 
quite equal in accomplishments to the other Regents, 
and he had to take an important part (see above, p. 
151) in the examinations for degrees. But, owing 
to his position and small emoluments, it frequently 
happened that the Regent of Humanity resigned 
his position and went off to be Rector (or Principal, 
as it was then called) of the High School, as being 
a place of superior emolument.^ And in some cases 
it happened that the same person returned from the 
Headship of the High School to fill the place of a 
Regent of Philosophy within the College. 

Widely different as is the Professor of Humanity 
{i.e. Latin) of the present day, both in position and 
functions, from the Regent of Humanity, as first in- 
stituted at the end of the sixteenth century, he is still 
his lineal successor ; and evidence to this is borne 
by the mode of his election. In 1597 it was agreed 
that the private Professor of Humanity should be 
chosen by " six Commissioners, whereof two for the 
Lords of Session, two for the Town Council, one for 
the Advocates, and one for the Writers to the 
Signet, using the advice of the Principal." And the 

^ The salary of the Regent of Humanity was /loo Scots, that of 
the Principal of the High School 200 merks, besides a fee of 20 shillings 
from each scholar in his class, and a "quarterly duty" of 40 pence from 
every boy in the school. In 1636 Alexander Gibson, being Regent of 
Humanity, surprised his friends by accepting the Headmastership of 
the Canongate Grammar School, which was of course inferior to the 
Edinburgh High School 


board of electors for the Professorship of Humanity 
remains constituted in precisely the same way, 
except that by the Universities (Scotland) Act of 
1858 the University Curators, instead of the Town 
Council, nominate two electors. 

A knowledge of Latin had always been taken 
for granted In the mediaeval Universities. And It 
has been said that the appointment of persons 
within the Scottish Universities to teach Latin as a 
separate subject argues a decline in the school- 
teaching of Latin after the Reformation.^ This may 
be so; but it also points to a higher standard of Latin 
introduced by the Renaissance. In the mediaeval 
Universities the Latin was monastic, and often 
slovenly to the last degree ; but at the end of the six- 
teenth century such a jargon could not be tolerated. 
And in Edinburgh a tutorial class in the College 
was necessitated by another reason, namely, by the 
tendency now showing itself in the citizens to send 
their sons to the College when they would have been 
better kept at school. The Town Council were 
masters of the position, and it rested with them to 
check or encourage this tendency as they saw fit. 
Unfortunately, they rather encouraged than checked 
it. They always took care that the High School 
should not encroach on the College, but they did 
not prevent the College encroaching on the High 
School. Thus in 1584, when they were for the 

* Professor Veitch, in Mind^ No. V. Chairs of Latin were 
founded — at St Andrews in 1620 ; in Glasgow in 1637 ; in Aberdeen 
not till 1839. 

VOL. I. O 


first time in full command of their School, with a 
suitable building in the garden of Blackfriars, and 
an accomplished Headmaster of their own choos- 
ing, they appointed a committee to draw up the 
order of School studies, with special injunctions that 
it should be kept separate from the College course. 
In 1597 — the same year that the private class of 
Humanity was established in the College — the 
School course was revised ; and we may say briefly 
that the work now prescribed for the senior class in 
the High School bore about the same relation to 
the work of the Humanity class in the College as is 
borne by the Fifth Form to the Sixth Form in an 
English public school. The Town Council, who by 
King James's charter had been constituted Supreme 
Ministers of Public Instruction in Edinburgh, would 
have better discharged their functions if, instead of 
introducing a tutorial class into the University, 
they had added on an advanced class at the top of 
the High School, so as to relegate to the High 
School all preparation for the course of Philo- 
sophy within the College. Had this been done, 
an example would have been set to the whole 
of Scotland, and the degradation of the Scottish 
Universities, which has since ensued, would have 
been avoided. 

Some thought of this kind appears, many years 
later, to have been entertained by the Town Council; 
for we read that in 1656 they appointed two of 
their number to wait on the Judges, Advocates, and 
Writers, and lay before them a proposal for abolish- 


ing the Humanity Class, "as prejudicial not only 
to the Grammar School, but to the College itself." 
But the College of Justice did not concur with the 
Town Council in this opinion. The high educa- 
tional ideas of the Book of Discipline had by this 
time died out of the land. And so the staff of the 
College was allowed to retain the appendage of a 
classical tutor below the Principal and four Regents. 
And this was the College staff as constituted in 


The next changes that were made in this estab- 
lishment appear to have been partly the results of 
a very questionable transaction on the part of the 
Town Council, partly to be due to the influence of 
the Ministers of Edinburgh, who in the early part of 
the seventeenth century acquired a greatly-increased 
authority over the affairs of the College. By King 
James's charter the Town Council were required to 
act "with the advice of the Ministers" in the 
election of Professors, but they seem to have 
generally ignored this injunction. In 1608 the 
Clergy of Edinburgh bought a distinct acknowledg- 
ment of their rights in the following way : — Walter 
Balcanquall (see above, p. 105) and John Hall, "con- 
sidering that the late pestilence and other causes 
had diminished the city's revenue," and prevented 
the Magistrates from setting the College on a proper 
footing, persuaded the Kirk-Session to make over 
to the Town Council a sum of ;^8ioo, on condition 
that the Council should engage to pay to the College, 
for augmentation of the salaries of the Masters, in 


all time coming, 1000^ merks per annum, and should 
grant to the Kirk -Session that the Ministers of 
Edinburgh should for the future have joint voice 
with the Town Council in electing the Principal, 
Masters, and Regents of the College. 

The Ministry of Edinburgh at that period 
comprised some very able and energetic men, and 
during the seventeenth century clerical control ^ over 
the ** Town's College" was very distinctly and on the 
whole beneficially exercised. This influence appears 
afterwards to have gradually died out in the course of 
years, without ever having been directly abrogated. 
In 1620 the Kirk -Session gave countenance to a 
cabal, by means of which an influential Councilman 
was enabled to exercise a shameless piece of nepotism, 
and the Ministry got one of their own body put into a 
position of high authority in relation to the College. 

* This was nearly 8J per cent. Eighteen years previously the 
Town Council had granted a rate of 10 per cent on the sum lodged 
with them for endowing a Professor of Laws. 

' A striking instance of this occurred in 1626-27, in the case of their 
treatment of James Reid. One of the Ministers, William Struthers, 
who was Moderator of the Presbytery, had in a public address spoken 
of Philosophy as " the dish-clout of Divinity." Reid, who had been 
Regent of the College since 1603, and was a distinguished man in his 
vocation, answered this remark in a thesis, which he propounded at a 
graduation ceremony, and in which he reminded his hearers that 
*' Aristippus said he would rather be a Christian philosopher, than an 
unphilosophical divine." Struthers, highly offended at the retort, got 
all the Ministers of the city to join him in a complaint to the Town 
Council, and the result was that " though Reid was very well beloved 
in the Council, and in the whole city," and though he obtained a man- 
date from the Privy Council ordering the Patrons to retain him in his 
office, he was forced to resign his position in the College, receiving 
from the City Treasurer ;^iooo (Scots) as an honorary recompense for 
his faithful service of twenty-four years. And all this for a smart 
answer to the foolish saying of a Minister. 


The circumstances were these : Henry Charteris, 
who by Rollock's dying advice had been appointed 
second Principal of the College, was a learned man, 
but of a too humble and retiring disposition for the 
conflicts of life, and was accordingly undervalued by 
the Town Council. A former colleague of his 
among the Regents, Patrick Sands, who had left the 
College to be travelling tutor to Lord Newbattle, 
now returned to Edinburgh ; and as he was unsuc- 
cessful at the bar, his brother-in-law, who was Dean 
of Guild, *' having great power in the Council, began 
to project a way to get him made Primar of the 
College." Charteris gave an opening to the 
schemers by applying to have his salary, which was 
only ;^500 (Scots), raised to an equality with that 
of the City Ministers, as indeed had been promised 
him. He was told that the present state of the 
College funds would not admit of his request being 
complied with,^ and that he would do well (being a 
preacher) to accept some call to the ministry else- 
where. Charteris, taking the hint, early in 1620 
accepted a call from the parish of North Leith ; 
resigned his Principalship, after twenty years tenure 
of office, and departed. 

The resignation of Charteris was received at a 
meeting of the Town Council, conjoined with repre- 
sentatives of the Kirk-Session, and these two parties 
now proceeded to divide the spoil. The offices 
which had been united in the persons of Rollock and 

^ How false was this excuse will be shown in an Appendix to Vol. 
II. on the financial history of the College. 


Charteris were separated, and " M r. Andrew Ramsay, 
Minister," was appointed ** Professor of Divinity in 
their College during the Town's will," and also 
" Rector of the said College for the year to come," 
while Patrick Sands was *' elected and chosen Prin- 
cipal of their College during the Council's will." 

These are the terms under which the appoint- 
ments are designated in the City Records of 20th 
March 1620. Craufurd, however, with his usual 
desire to attribute the forms of a University to the 
College of Edinburgh, puts a false colour on the 
transaction, saying : " The Primar s charge (who 
before had been Rector and Professor of Divinity) 
was divided ; the Council and Ministers choosing 
Mr. Andrew Ramsay, Minister, to be Rector of the 
University^ and Professor of Theology ; and Mr. 
Patrick Sands, Primar of the Philosophy College'^ 
This represents the arrangement as if it recognised 
a University outside of and including the College, 
and as if the College was now to be designated as 
"the Philosophy College," implying the existence, 
actual or potential, of other Colleges within the 
University. All which, as their words demonstrate, 
was utterly remote from the ideas of the Town 
Council and Ministers. 

Edinburgh was not like Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, 
St. Andrews, Glasgow, or Aberdeen, in each of 
which a University had existed previous to the exist- 
ence of any Colleges or College. In Edinburgh, 
while there was no University, a College had been 
created, standing by itself; the University function 


of conferring degrees had indeed been assumed for 
this College, yet still it was regarded by its patrons, 
with all simplicity as "the Town's College,'* and 
nothing more. In 1586 RoUock had received the 
titles of ** Principal and Rector " of the College, and 
to these titles Charteris had succeeded. While the 
offices implied by these names were held by the 
same person they were indistinguishable, merely 
comprising all the functions of Headship, subject to 
the control of the Town Council. When the offices 
were separated the Principal was left to carry on 
the discipline, religious and moral control, and 
administration of the College ; the Rector was con- 
stituted a Supervisor^ or Inspector, "the eye of the 
Council of the Town " (as he is defined in an order 
of 1640) " for universal inspection, and as the mouth 
of the College for delivering such overtures to the 
Council as himself and his assessors shall find con- 
venient." These functions, however, were not 
defined so clearly as this till twenty years after 
Ramsay's appointment. The peculiarity of Ramsay's 
position was that he should hold the Rectorship, 
which implied supervision of the College from with- 

* It is curious to observe that as early as February 1587 the Town 
Council had appointed an external supervisor to the College, without 
giving him the title of Rector, which was then borne by RoUock. 
This was John Johnston, brother to the Laird of Elphinston, who was 
appointed " to have the oversight and government of the affairs of the 
College lately founded and erected by the good Town in the Kirk of 
Field, and of the place. Masters, and Students thereof." We have no 
subsequent mention in the City Records of Mr. John Johnston in this 
capacity. Probably nothing came of the appointment But this 
creation of an office without a name is an instance of the homely, 
unacademic way in which the Town Council went to work. 


out, while he was himself a member of the College, 
as being at the same time Professor of Divinity. 
But when at the end of six years Ramsay ^ laid down 
his two offices, he acknowledged that his Rectorship 
had been a merely nominal title, as he had never 
exercised any functions in connection with it. 

As Sands was not a Divine, but an unsuccessful 
Advocate, his jobbed appointment to be Principal of 
the College necessitated an increase in the staff by 
the appointment of a Professor of Divinity in 
addition to the Principal. And this separate Pro- 
fessorship, which had come into existence quasi- 
fortuitously, was made a permanence. The Prin- 
cipalship of Sands, who completely failed in the dis- 
charge of his duties,* only lasted one year and a half; 
and he then retired with *'a gratification of 1000 
merks.*' After him a succession of Principals were 
appointed who were all Divines, and they reassumed 
RoUock's title of " Professor of Theology.'** They 
relinquished, however, to the ** Professor of Divinity*' 
the duties which Rollock had performed in the way 

* Andrew Ramsay, younger son of the Laird of Balmain, and whose 
elder brother was one of the first batch of baronets, was an accom- 
plished man. He wrote Latin poems in the style of Ovid, on the 
Creation^ Fall of Man, and Redemption^ and dedicated them to 
Charles I. He was a Calvinist, but attached to the Episcopal form of 
Church Government. 

* Curiously enough, Sands, though a layman, seems as Principal 
to have been put in charge of Greyfriars' Church. Perhaps it was in 
this capacity that he gave dissatisfaction. 

' Thus Principal Andrew Cant's inaugural address, published 1676, 
bears on the title-page : " De Concordia Theologorum et Discordia. 
Oratio habita ab Andrea Cantaeo in Acroatcrio publico Academiae 
Edinburgenae ad diem 15 Novemb. Anni 1675, dum Primariatum, eique 
annexam SS. Theologiae professionem auspicaretur. " 


of training graduates for the office of the Ministry. 
In short, the Principal henceforth had no concern 
with the systematic teaching of Theology ; he con- 
ducted family worship with the Students, and after 
RoUock's plan gave them every Wednesday a dis- 
course, " to instruct them in the knowledge of God 
and of their duties." 

Except under the circumstances of a layman 
being made Principal, it appears difficult to see what 
was the necessity of separating the office of Professor 
of Divinity from that of Principal. The conjoint 
duties of these appointments had been discharged 
successfully by RoUock, and probably also by 
Charteris.^ In the Code of Regulations for the 
College drawn up by the Town Council in 1628 the 
work prescribed for the Professor of Divinity does 
not look very severe ; it was : — 

ist. To give two "public" lectures on Divinity 
each week, before the Principal and Regents, the 
two highest classes of the Philosophy Students, and 
the Students of Divinity. 

2d. To make the Divinity Students ''dispute" 
once a week. 

3d. To give them private exercises in Latin. 

4th. To hold "public" disputations {i.e. before 
the whole College) once a month. 

^ On the resignation of Ramsay in 1526 Charteris was brought 
back to the College from North Leith, to be Professor of Divinity with 
a salary of 1000 merks. He was not made Rector, and it is evident 
that the Town Council regarded him as a good and learned teacher, 
but unfit to govern. 


5th. To " read a lesson " to the Divinity Students 
in the Hebrew language once a week. 

This scheme for the Theological studies of the 
College of Edinburgh in the seventeenth century 
appears very slight. It immeasurably falls short of 
Andrew Melville's ideas of what a Theological course 
should be (see above, p. 93), and even of Rollock's 
programme of teaching, as Professor of Divinity. 
We might almost say, as the Ministers of Edinburgh 
were probably more responsible than the Town 
Council for the above list of duties, that it indicates 
a decadence in the learning and intellect of the Kirk 
of Scotland in the sixty-eight years which had elapsed 
since the Reformation. The duties of the Professor 
of Divinity were, at all events, light enough to admit 
of his undertaking, in addition, the work of a City 
Minister; and this in two cases, if not more, was 
done ; a fortiori then he might have performed the 
duties of Principal, and there was no necessity for 
separating the offices. 

And yet it is curious to note that the establish- 
ment and endowment of a separate Chair of Divinity 
became quite a popular object, perhaps owing to the 
influence of the Ministers, for private donations and 
bequests. From 161 8 to 1634 the Town Council 
received from ten different donors or testators the 
aggregate sum of 8475 nierks for this purpose. 
And in 1639 they had entrusted to them by Mr. 
Somerville of Sauchton Hall the munificent gift of 
26,000 merks (;^i444 sterling), of which 20,000 were 
for the endowment of a Professor of Divinity and 


6000 for building him a house. These facts testify 
to the interest felt by the middle classes of Edin- 
burgh in the improvement of their College, and 
also to the religious feeling which made them 
regard with especial favour the promotion of Theo- 
logical studies. 

The institution of the new Professorship made 
at first no difference in the educational system of 
the College. There was no thought, as yet, of 
graduation in Theology. But still the addition of 
this new Chair was a step, taken unconsciously, 
towards the formation of a Theological Faculty, 
and thus towards the expansion of the College into 
a University. 

At the same time (in 1620) other steps were 
taken in the same direction. For the senior Regent 
in the College was made *' public Professor of 
Mathematics," and the second Regent " public Pro- 
fessor of Metaphysics." This was a slight move- 
ment towards the specialisation of teaching and the 
introduction of a Professorial system ; but for the 
time no change was made in the course for gradua- 
tion. The two senior Regents, who had received 
these appointments, remained rotating Regents as 
before, and all that was required of them in their new 
offices was to give a couple of lectures per week, 
each in their respective subjects, before the two 
highest classes. These lectures no doubt supple- 
mented and improved certain parts of the course of 
Philosophy. But in its essential features the degree 
system remained unaltered. The staff of the College 


had merely been increased from six to seven, and it 
stood as follows : — 

Rector of the College and Professor of Divinity. 

Principal of the College. 

Senior Regent and Professor of Mathematics. 

Second Regent and Professor of Metaphysics. 

Two Junior Regents of Philosophy. 

Regent of Humanity. 

The institution being arrived at this stage of its 
development, there came next year (i 621) an Act of 
the Parliament of Scotland confirming its privileges, 
such as they were; ordaining ''the said College in 
all time coming to be called King James's College," 
and granting ** in favour of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 
Patron of the said College, and of the said College, 
and of the Rectors, Regents, Bursars, and Students 
within the same, all liberties, freedoms, and immuni- 
ties, and privileges appertaining to a free College, 
and that in as ample form and large manner as 
any College has or bruiks {i.e. enjoys) within His 
Majesty's realm." The real importance of this Act 
was that it set the College of Edinburgh upon the 
same footing as Earl Marischall's College in Aber- 
deen,^ which had been founded as a degree-giving 
College in 1593, and had received ratification of its 
powers from Parliament. The degrees conferred by 
the College of Edinburgh now accordingly received 
Parliamentary sanction, and were placed above 
dispute. Other privileges and immunities the 

* See Appendix F. Marischall College. 


College enjoyed none. It is curious to note that 
the Act speaks of ** Rectors" in the plural number, 
apparently indicating under this designation the 
Rector and the Principal, lately constituted as 
separate officers. 

Another great peculiarity has been already 
referred to (p. 1 19), namely, that the Act ratifies " the 
erection of the said great lodging, manse, and house 
of the Kirk of Field into a College for profession 
of Theology, Philosophy, and Humanity;" and in 
another place speaks of the Town Council "placing 
therein sufficient Professors for the teaching of all 
Liberal Sciences," without following the charter of 
14th April 1582 (which it quotes and ratifies) into 
the mention of Medicine and Laws. ** Liberal 
Sciences" in those days meant **Arts," as distin- 
guished from Laws. Therefore the Act of 1621, 
whether intentionally or by accident, restricted the 
College of Edinburgh to be a College of Arts and 
Theology. This, however, was never noticed, and 
therefore not acted on. 

It has been seen that Andrew Ramsay, first 
Rector of the College, treated his office, which he 
held from 1620 to 1626, as a merely nominal one. 
The same course was adopted by Lord Preston- 
grange (a Lord of Session), who was elected Rector 
in 1627, and gave the oath de fideli administrationCy 
but did nothing farther. He died in 1631 ; and the 
office of Rector remained in abeyance for nine years, 
when the Town Council resolved to revive it. They 
ordained in 1 640 that a Rector of the College should 


be appointed annually, with six Assessors, to be 
chosen from the Council, the Ministers, and the 
Masters of the College. An elaborate table of his 
duties was drawn up : — 

I St. (As above quoted) he was to be " the eye of 
the Town Council," and the medium of communica- 
tion between the College and them. 

2d. He was to see that the Principal and Regents 
fulfilled their duties. Otherwise, he was to report 
them to the Town Council. 

3d. He was to arbitrate (under privilege of appeal 
to the Town Council) upon all disputes arising be- 
tween members of the College which did not naturally 
fall to be decided by civil or ecclesiastical courts. 

4th. He was to keep the Matriculation Roll, and 
administer the Sponsto Academica to entrants, and 
also the Confession of Faith to persons about to 

5th. He was to keep a list and honourable record 
of benefactors. 

6th. He was to advise the Town Council as to 
the College finances. 

7th. He was to preside at all ceremonials of the 

A certain amount of pomp was to be attached to 
his person : a silver mace ^ was provided to be 
carried before him ; and one of the Students was 
appointed to be his bedell, or macer, with a stipend 
of ;^20 (Scots) per annum. 

* See Appendix G. HISTORY OF THE University Mace. 


In January 1640 Alexander Henderson, "Minister 
of the Great Kirk of Edinburgh," and the most 
eminent of the Presbyterian Ministers of that day, 
was appointed to the office of Rector of the College,^ 
under the above mentioned regulations. He held 
office for five and a half years; and during that 
time, though constantly occupied by Church politics, 
he did great service to the College. Immediately 
after his appointment, and probably by his advice 
(in accordance with the sixth article of his duties), 
a separate Treasurer was appointed to manage 
the College rents, as distinct from the other City 
revenues. In the same year (1640) he succeeded 
in raising a loan of ;^2 1,777 (Scots) on the security 
of the Town, and handed it over to be applied to 
College purposes. In 1641 Henderson preached 
before Charles I. at Holy rood, and was made Dean 
of the Chapel- Royal. We may ascribe it to his 
influence that in that year the Scottish Parliament 
assigned some remnants of the rents of the Deanery 
of Edinburgh and of the Bishopric of Orkney to 
the College of Edinburgh. In 1641 the General 
Assembly agreed to overtures concerning Uni- 
versities and Colleges to be laid before the King 
and Parliament. In 1642 they passed a resolution 
" that in respect of the present scarcity of Professors 
of Divinity, it were good for the Universities to send 
abroad for able and approved men." In the same 

* Henderson's Rectorial gown was long preserved in a chest in 
the University Library. It is now in the Museum of the Society of 
Antiquaries. It appears, however, to be an ordinary '^ Geneva gown." 


year, " by the advice of the Rector and his Assessors," 
John Fleming, merchant, bestowed 4000 merks for 
College buildings. In 1643 " Circling " was restored 
(see above, p. 152) after thirteen years' intermission, 
and not without much opposition. In 1644 a new 
library was commenced to be built for the College ; 
a chamber was erected over the north gate of the 
College, opposite College Wynd ; and other chambers 
were built by the liberality of Town Councillors and 
other citizens. In 1645 "Overtures for advance- 
ment of learning and good order in Grammar Schools 
and Colleges" were carried in the General Assembly ; 
these consisted of nine articles, enjoining : visitation 
of Grammar Schools ; greater attention to Latin 
poetry; monopoly of Greek and Logic for the 
Colleges ; Entrance Examinations in Latin ; non- 
promotion to higher classes of those not sufficiently 
prepared ; careful examination for degrees ; non- 
reception from one College to another without 
certificate ; correspondence and uniformity between 
the Universities. In 1646 a sum of 7000 merks, 
which by the Rector's advice David Graham, 
merchant, had bequeathed to the College, was re- 
ceived and applied to carrying on the building of 
the new library. In the autumn of the same year 
Henderson died, worn out, having been engaged 
during the last months of his life in a celebrated 
controversy with Charles I., at Newcastle, on the 
respective claims of Episcopacy and Presbyterianism. 
In the brief period of his Rectorship Henderson 
gave an immense stimulus to the College of Edin- 


burgh. He was the ablest educationist and the 
man of clearest insight of all who had had to do 
with the College since its foundation. He saw 
what was wanted, and had the energy and the tact 
necessary for securing it. It would have been an 
inestimable advantage for the Universities of Scot- 
land if his life could have been prolonged for twenty 
years. In all the movements for University and 
College reform just mentioned we trace his hand; 
and with one exception — that of giving a monopoly 
of Greek and Logic to the Colleges — they were all 
in the right direction. 

After the death of Henderson the Town Coun- 
cil, resolving to continue the office of Rector, re- 
appointed to it, for one year, Andrew Ramsay, now 
in charge of the parish of Greyfriars, and the oldest 
Minister of the City. And in this capacity he 
appears as a Commissioner to represent the ** Uni- 
versity " of Edinburgh (formally recognised as such) 
in an inter- University conference, held in accordance 
with the 9th article of the General Assembly's 
enactment of 1645. ^X ^^^^ Commission it was 
concluded, inter alia : *' To communicate to the 
General Assembly no more of our University affairs 
but such as concern religion, or have some evident 
ecclesiastic relation;" that the ''Leges Scholee et 
Academice EdinburgetUB be now given or sent to 
the other three Universities, to be thought upon ;"^ 

^ This means that the Town Councils regulations for the High 
School and College of Edinburgh were to be proposed as a model to 
the other Universities. This is certainly a feather in the cap of the 
Town Council. 

VOL. I. P 


and that "it is found necessary that there be a 
Cursus Philosophicus drawn up by the four Uni- 
versities ; that St. Andrews take the Metaphysics, 
Glasgow the Logics, Aberdeen the Ethics and 
Mathematics, and Edinburgh the Physics.'* This 
idea of a dogmatic, cut-and-dry system of Philosophy, 
to be provided by a division of labour among the 
Universities, was of course absurd, and said little 
for the mental grasp of those who proposed it. But 
it occupied the attention of various subsequent 
University Commissions for some time to come. 

Ramsay was again appointed Rector next year, 
but in 1648 the General Assembly deposed him, in 
his old age, from the office of the Ministry, on the 
charge of favouring the Duke of Hamilton's *' En- 
gagement" with Charles I. And so the Rectorship 
of the College of Edinburgh (which by delegates of 
the three older Universities had been recognised 
as a University) again became vacant. At the 
beginning of 1649 M^"- Robert Douglas, who was 
now eminent in the City Ministry, was appointed 
to the post, with six Assessors, as had become the 
rule. But the sole recorded outcome of his tenure 
of office is, that shortly after his appointment he 
held a meeting with his Assessors in College, and 
recommended the observance of certain regulations 
relative to the hours of meeting. 

The Town Council had made excellent choice of 
Rectors for their College in the persons of Ramsay, 
Henderson, and Douglas ; it would probably have 
been a good thing if they had steadily gone on put- 


ting the most able Minister of the day, or occasion- 
ally a Lord of Session, into the office. But it was 
characteristic of the relations of the Town Council 
to the College, during 275 years, that, while almost 
always actuated by the best intentions, they were 
subject from time to time, at long intervals, to im- 
pulses of self-assertion. One of these moods seems 
to have come upon them on the loth November 
1665, when they agreed **that Mr. William Colvill, 
Principal, should be sent for to the Council, and 
gently reproved for having given greater importance 
to the Commissioners from the College of Justice, 
at the choice of a Regent of Humanity, than to the 
Town Council ;" and at the same meeting resolved 
"that the Lord Provost, present and to come, should 
be always Rector and Governor of the College."^ 

This terminates the history of the Rectorship 
of the College of Edinburgh, as distinguished from 
the Rectorship of the University, which was insti- 
tuted for the first time by the Universities (Scotland) 
Act of 1858. By the arrangement, which made the 
Lord Provost Rector, the Town Council lost their 
"eye" and the College its mouthpiece. Remon- 
strances were subsequently made by the College on 
the abolition of a " useful office ; " but without 

^ Bower declares that this assumption of the Rectorship was a 
piece of spite and revenge on the part of the then Lord Provost, 
because his son had been chastised by one of the Regents. However 
this may have been, the person in question must have been a very 
potent Lord Provost, who probably had things all his own way, for he 
appears to have held office no less than fifteen years. He was Sir 
Andrew Ramsay ; it is a pity that, with so much influence, he had not 
greater wisdom. 


effect. By the Lord Provost's assuming the title of 
Rector he was not enabled to be of any more use 
to the College than he had been before, nor did he 
gain any accession of authority. His position in 
this respect was reduced to the ludicrous at the trial 
of certain Students in 1838, "on the charge of mob- 
bing, rioting, and assault " in a snow-bicker with the 
citizens. The then Lord Provost, who had appeared 
on the scene, being cross-examined by the celebrated 
" Peter Robertson," and asked : " You are Rector 
of the University ?" replied, " No ; I may be, but I 
am not aware of it."^ 

In following up the Rector of the College till 
his last public appearance in 1838, we have a little 
stepped out of the chronology of Academic develop- 
ment. We must now go back to 1 642, when, during 
Henderson's Rectorship, and no doubt by his advice, 
an addition was made to the staff of the College of 
Edinburgh, by the appointment for the first time of 
a Professor of Hebrew. The wonder is that this 
should never have been done before. From the 
first the training of Ministers had always been a 
chief function of the College ; during the first ten 
years of its existence out of 259 graduates, 103, or 
38*6 per cent, became Ministers. This proportion 
afterwards fell off, but down to 1642, that is, for the 
first sixty years of the history of the College, above 
20 per cent of its graduates entered the Ministry. 


* The students, who were acquitted, afterwards produced a carica- 
ture of ** The man who doesn't know he's Rector. 

2 These statistics are obtained from the early Graduation Lists, 
which, from 1587 to 1657 inclusive, show brief notes, indicating the 


We have seen also that the endowment of the 
teaching of Divinity was a popular object with the 
citizens of Edinburgh. Under these circumstances 
it was hardly creditable to tlie Ministers and the 
Town Council to have made no provision during 
sixty years for the systematic teaching of Hebrew 
to the Divinity Students. In the College courses, 
as originally laid down, the Regent of the Bachelor 
class had been required to give his pupils a smatter- 
ing of Hebrew grammar during the early part of 
one session (see above, p. 149). In the descrip- 
tion by Charteris of Rollock's work with the 
Divinity class there is no mention of his teaching 
Hebrew. He must have done so to some extent, 
but evidently with no thoroughness, else Charteris, 
his pupil, would have mentioned it When, in 1620, 
a separate Professor of Divinity was appointed, he 
was required in the formal list of his duties to " read 
one lesson in the Hebrew language" with the 
Divinity Students each week. All which was per- 
functory in the extreme, and contrasts lamentably 
with Melville's studies at Geneva, with his practice 
in the College of Glasgow, and with his ideal scheme 
for " New College" at St. Andrews. 

But now under Henderson's auspices a change 
was to be made. The General Assembly of 1642, 
in which he was a leading spirit, had resolved that 
" it were good for the Universities to send abroad 

career of some of the Graduates in each year, and especially marking 
'' Minister Verbi " against the name of each person who entered the 
Ministry. The annotator may very likely have been Thomas Crau- 
furd, who died in 1662. 


for able and approved men" to be Professors of 
Divinity. The reason was added, " that our Ministers 
may be kept in their pastoral charge as much as may 
be;" but probably the real reason for the "over- 
ture " was that Henderson had observed the streams 
of home learning to be running low, and saw that 
they must be replenished, as in old times, from the 
Continent. In the same year the Town Council of 
Edinburgh (presumably by his advice) determined 
to introduce the special teaching of Hebrew into 
their College, and for this purpose to engage a 
learned foreigner. The City Record on the subject 
is, as usual, laconic ; it states that " the Council, 
considering that they had caused bring home Julius 
Conradus Otto to be a Professor of the Hebrew 
and Oriental ^ Tongues," therefore they appoint him 
on one year's trial, with a salary of 1200 merks. 
Otto was said to have been a Jew ; nothing else is 
known of his history or nationality. Nor are any 
particulars of his teaching in Edinburgh recorded, 
except that he held the Chair till 1656. 

By this time Henderson was dead, and perhaps 

* This title, which the Professor of Hebrew has borne ever since, 
gave rise to some dispute in 1869, when the Professor of Sanskrit wished 
to open a class for teaching Hindustani, which is one of the modem 
dialectical corruptions of Sanskrit, with a large infusion of Arabic 
words. But the then Professor of Hebrew remonstrated, on the 
ground that his Commission gave him the sole right of teaching 
"Oriental languages." Perhaps he should have protested earlier 
against the foundation of a Chair of Sanskrit at all. Henderson and 
the Town Council probably never thought of either Sanskrit or any of 
the dialects of India. They doubtless meant to imply under the 
term " Oriental languages/' Chaldee and Syriac, and perhaps Arabic ; 
in short, the Semitic languages and dialects which are cognate with 


there was no one after him with sufficient insight 
and influence to keep the Town Council up to the 
mark in maintaining a proper standard of the higher 
learning. Various local Ministers were successively 
put into the Chair of Hebrew ; once " a Student of 
Divinity," who was kinsman to the Principal. A 
Florentine, named Amedeus, was tried, but he seems 
not to have given satisfaction, and only held the 
professorship for a year. The salary fluctuated 
during the remainder of the seventeenth century, 
but was never so large as what had been allowed to 
Otto. From 1200 merks it was reduced to 900; 
then to 600 ; then raised to 1000 ; finally, at the end 
of the century it appears at the wretched sum of 
500 merks, or less than ;^30 sterling. At the same 
time we find the Professor of Hebrew enjoined " to 
give lessons on Mondays and Fridays." The old 
perfunctory notions of the way in which most deeply 
important subjects could be taught had resumed 
their sway. Scotland had relapsed into a Dark 
Age of its own. But the revival of intellect was at 
hand, and a streak of dawn might have been observed 
in 1674, when the first of a family of geniuses was 
introduced into the College of Edinburgh. It is 
not the object of this chapter to depict the quali- 
fications of distinguished Professors of the past. 
That topic is deferred, and we are at present 
only concerned with the development, treated 
impersonally, of Academic offices, studies, and con- 
stitution. But it is permissible here to mention 
the name of the first James Gregory, because 


by his appointment in 1674, not only was a 
man of genius attached to the College, but also 
a separate Professor of Mathematics, exclusively 
devoted to his subject, and not called upon to 
go through the drudgery of regenting, was in- 
augurated. It is true that Gregory was only re- 
quired to give two public lectures a week to such 
Students as wished to attend, and his career in the 
College was unhappily cut short within a year after 
his appointment But the idea of having a distinct 
teacher of Mathematics was never afterwards relin- 
quished. A tutor of the subject held office for ten 
years, and then there followed, as Professors of 
Mathematics in the College of Edinburgh, the bril- 
liant succession of the two other Gregorys and 
Colin Maclaurin. 

The department of Philosophy or Arts in the 
College had now reached its fullest seventeenth- 
century development. There were the four rotating 
Regents with their everlasting round of Aristotle, etc., 
necessary for graduation. There was the Regent of 
Humanity preparing entrants for the Bajan class, 
and perhaps occasionally lecturing to the whole 
College on classics. And there was now a Professor 
of Mathematics, with two lectures a week for volun- 
teers. This was all. The Town Council had in 
1620 (see above, p. 203) instituted a lectureship in 
Metaphysics, but they were at that time very fitful 
in such matters, and when the lecturer was, in 1627, 
turned out of the College by the Ministers (see 
p. 196, note) they never appointed any one to succeed 


him. It was a meagre apparatus of Arts teaching, 
but probably on a level with that of the other Uni- 
versities of Scotland. The seventeenth century was 
the period of deepest depression for literature and 
science in Scotland. The College of Edinburgh, 
even in its Arts department, was secretly growing 
and gaining strength, and was soon about to burst 
its shell and emerge into that specialisation of teach- 
ing and research which is the prime characteristic 
of a modern University. 

In the last quarter of the seventeenth century, 
a little before and after the conclusion of the 
first hundred years of the existence of the College, 
events occurred which gave it a new feature, gave 
it, in short, the beginnings of that which is now 
the great Medical School of the University of 

The origin of this new order of things was quite 
external to the College and its patrons; it rested 
with a small galaxy of accomplished, energetic, and 
some of them rather eccentric physicians, who, having 
been bred in foreign schools, were now congregated 
in Edinburgh. Chief and leader among them was 
Sir Robert Sibbald, and with him were associated 
Drs. Pitcairne, Andrew Balfour, Burnett, and Archi- 
bald Stevenson. Previous to this period Edinburgh 
had been remarkably infested with quacks.^ And at 

* The works of one of these have lived after him down to times 
within memory. Patrick Anderson in the seventeenth century adver- 
tised in Latin his " Angelic Pills," a sovereign remedy for all diseases, 
the secret of which he professed to have learned in Venice. His patent 
for these pills still exists ; and there was, not long ago, an old " land " 


this time medical practice in the city was greatly 
monopolised by the society of Surgeon-apothecaries. 
Sibbald and his friends set themselves to vindicate 
by degrees the position of Physicians and graduated 
Doctors of Medicine, and at the same time to advance 
the legitimate practice of Physic. 

Sibbald states as his first principle : " I had learnt 
that the simplest method of physic was the best; 
and those (su) that the country afforded came near- 
est to our temper and agreed best with us." There 
may be something superstitious in this idea, but at 
all events it led Sibbald to investigate what materia 
medica^ in the way of herbs, Scotland was capable of 
producing, and for this purpose to promote the 
establishment of a botanical garden. In this enter- 
prise he was aided by his friend. Dr. Andrew Balfour, 
" a man of excellent wit, who had improved by his 
travels for fourteen years." The two, working 
together, got the use of a piece of ground belonging 
to Holyrood House, "of some forty feet every way." 
Such was the humble beginning of the Botanical 
Garden of Edinburgh. "We had," proceeds Sibbald, 
"by this time become acquainted with Mr. James 
Sutherland, a youth who, by his own industry, had 
attained great knowledge of the plants and of medals ; 
and he undertook the culture of it. By what we 
procured from Levistone and other gardens, and 

in the High Street dedicated to the sale of " Anderson's pills," with a 
portrait of Anderson painted on the walL About 1844 there was a 
litigation about the property in '' Anderson's pills," as a question of 
succession under an entail See Hill Burton's Scot Abroad^ vol. ii. 
p. 117. 


brought in from the country, we made a collection 
of eight or nine hundred plants there. We got 
several of the physicians in town to concur in the 
design, and to contribute so much a year for the 
charge of the culture and importation of foreign 
plants. Some of the Surgeon-apothecaries, who had 
then much power in the town, opposed us, dreading 
that it might usher in a College of Physicians ; but 
by the care and dexterity of Dr. Balfour these were 
made friends to the design, and assisted us in obtain- 
ing of the Council of Edinburgh a lease to Mr. James 
Sutherland, for nineteen years, of the garden belong- 
ing to Trinity Hospital and adjacent to it^ And 
Dr. Balfour and I, with some others, were appointed 
by the Town Council visitors of the garden. After 
this, we applied ourselves with much care to embellish 
the fabric of the garden, and import plants from all 
places into this garden ; and procured that several 
of the nobility concurred in contributing for some 
years. For the encouragement of Mr. Sutherland, 
some gifts likewise were obtained of money from the 
Exchequer, and the Lords of Session and Faculty 
of Advocates, for that use ; and by Dr. Balfour's 
procurement considerable packets of seeds and plants 
were yearly sent hither from abroad, and the students 
of medicine got directions to send them from all 
places they travelled to, when they might be had ; by 
which means the garden increased considerably 
every year." 

* A low-lying site, east of what is now the North Bridge, now 
occupied by the North British Railway Company. 


Such is the pleasing narrative which Sibbald 
gives of the steps so judiciously taken by himself 
and his colleague for introducing this important 
scientific improvement into Edinburgh. A few 
years later what had been done was associated with 
and incorporated into the College, for in 1676 the 
Town Council passed an order that, "considering 
the usefulness and necessity of encouragement of 
the art of Botany and planting of medicinal herbs, 
and that it were for the better flourishing of the 
College that the said profession be joined to the 
other professions, they appoint a yearly salary of 
jC20 sterling, to be paid to Mr. James Sutherland, 
present Botanist, who professes the said art; and 
upon consideration aforesaid, they unite, annex, and 
adjoin the said Profession to the rest of the liberal 
sciences taught in the College, and recommend the 
Treasurer of the College to provide a convenient 
room in the College for keeping books and seeds 
relative to the said Profession.** Nineteen years 
later, in 1695, the Town Council, after stating that 
"the Physic Garden is in great reputation both in 
England and foreign nations, by the great care and 
knowledge of Mr. James Sutherland," appointed 
him still more formally Professor of Botany in the 
College, with all emoluments, profits, and casualties, 
and with the " pension " of £^0 sterling annually 
which had been formerly granted hira.^ 

* .The College of Surgeons of Edinburgh had got their patent from 
William and Mary in 1695. Sutherland, on this, immediately applied 
to have the instruction in Botany of their apprentices and pupils at a fee 
of one guinea each. This was granted, and Sutherland thus had a two- 


In the meantime Sibbald and his friends had 
been working with energy and tact for the establish- 
ment of a College, "to secure," as he says, "our 
privileges belonging to us as doctors, and defend 
us against the encroachments of the Surgeons and 
Apothecaries, which were insupportable." This was 
by no means a new idea. As early as 161 7 a 
proposal had been made for incorporating the 
Practitioners of Medicine in Scotland for the pur- 
pose of raising the character of Physicians and the 
standard of their acquirements. In 1621 James 
VI. issued a warrant to the Scottish Parliament for 
the establishment of a College of Physicians in 
Edinburgh ; but, owing apparently to the religious 
dissensions of the time, the order was not attended 
to. In 1630 the matter was revived, and referred 
by Charles I. to his Privy Council, and again came 
to nothing. In 1656 Cromwell issued a patent 
instituting a College of Physicians of Scotland, and 
giving it extensive powers; but the death of the 
Protector occurred before the necessary preliminaries 
could be got through, so that the credit of pro- 
curing this national benefit was reserved for Sir 
Robert Sibbald and his allies. They adroitly en- 
listed the sympathies of Sir Charles Scarborough, 
who had accompanied the Duke of York as his 

fold allegiance — to the College of Surgeons and to the " College or 
University " of Edinburgh. As time went on he seems to have grown 
remiss in his duties. In 1 705 he was complained of as having neglected 
both the teaching of the Surgeon -apprentices, and also the yard (or 
garden) of the College of Edinburgh, of which he was keeper. The 
Town Council immediately cut down his salary, upon which he 



physician to Edinburgh in 1680; they were sup- 
ported by the Earl of Perth, who had previously 
been Sibbald's patron, and he persuaded several of 
the nobility to favour their design ; finally Sibbald 
unearthed the warrant of James VI. above men- 
tioned, and laid it before the Royal Duke, who, 
recognising his grandfather's signature, at once said 
that he " would see their business done." " So that 
it was resolved there should be a College pf 
Physicians ; but it took a long time of dispute before 
the Privy Council, in answering the objections of 
the Surgeons and of the town of Edinburgh against 
it. We soon did agree with the University and 
Bishops, and there were some conditions inserted in 
the patent in their favours ;^ and they became strong 
solicitors for us ; so that, after long debates, the 
matter was concerted, and the draft of the patent 
agreed to by the Privy Council was sent up ; and 
very soon after, by his Royal Highness' present- 
ment, returned signed by the King." Sibbald him- 
self turned the patent into Latin, and the great 
seal was appended to it on the 29th November 

Thus was the College of Physicians of Edin- 
burgh brought into existence, with the full concur- 
rence of those who represented the interests of the 
Universities of Scotland. The conditions invested 

^ Le. In favour of the Universities of Scotland. Sibbald says, 
" We did soon agree with the University and Bishops.*' That means 
with the University of Edinburgh, represented by its patrons, the 
Town Council ; and with the Bishops (or Archbishops) of St. Andrews, 
Glasgow, and Aberdeen, as Chancellors of those Universities. 


into the patent in favour of the Universities were 
as follows : — 

I St. That the College of Physicians should have 
no power to erect a Medical School or confer 

2d. That its patent should be without prejudice 
to the rights and privileges conceded to " the Uni- 
versity or College" of St Andrews, Glasgow, 
Aberdeen, and Edinburgh. 

3d. That Graduates of the said Universities 
might freely practise Medicine in the other Uni- 
versity towns. If they resided in Edinburgh they 
would be subject to the Bye- Laws of the College of 
Physicians ; but all University Graduates might ; 
claim to be licentiated by the College, without 1 
examination and without fee. 

All was harmonious. Already, in 1676, the 
Keeper of the Physic Garden had been incorporated 
among the Professors of the Town's College as 
teacher of Botany. And in 1685 the Town Council 
brought in three leading members of the College of 
Physicians to be Professors of Medicine in what, for 
the first time on record, they called " the University v^ 
of this City." The Act of Council (24th March 
1685) is as follows : — " The Council considering that 
the College of this City being from the original 
erection and foundation thereof, by His Majesty 
King James VI. of blessed memory, erected into 
a University, and endowed with the privilege of 
erecting professions (professorships) of all sorts, 


particularly of medicine, and that the Physicians 
have procured from his late Majesty, of ever blessed 
memory. King Charles II., a patent erecting them 
into a College of Physicians, and that there is there- 
fore a necessity that there should be a Professor of 
Physic in the said College ; and understanding the 
great abilities and qualifications of Sir Robert 
Sibbald, etc., unanimously elect, nominate, and 
choose the said Sir Robert Sibbald to be Professor 
of Physic in the said University, and appoint con- 
venient rooms in the College to be provided for him, 
wherein he is to teach the art of Medicine." 

On the 9th September following, " the Council 
considering that by their Act of the date 24th March 
last, they had elected, nominated, and chosen Sir 
Robert Sibbald, Doctor of Medicine, to be Professor 
of Medicine in the University of this City, and had 
thereby appointed convenient rooms for him in the 
College for teaching the art of Medicine, and that 
he had compeared and accepted his office and made 
faith, and the Council considering that there is a 
necessity for more Professors of Medicine in the 
said University, and understanding the abilities and 
great qualifications of Doctor James Halket and Dr. 
Archibald Pitcairne, Doctors of Medicine, and their 
fitness to teach the art of Medicine in the said 
University, do therefore elect, nominate, and choose 
the said two doctors to be joined with Sir Robert 
Sibbald, His Majesty's Physician in ordinary, to be 
Professors of Medicine in the said University with 
the said Dr. Sibbald, and appoint convenient rooms 


in the College to be provided to them for teaching 
the said art of Medicine ; but the Council declare 
the said Professors are to have no salaries from the 
good Town nor from the said University." 

The foregoing Acts have been quoted on account 
of their phraseology, which is so remarkable as to 
demand explanation. Why did the Town Council 
suddenly alter the usage which had prevailed for 
more than a century, and style the "Towns Col- 
lege" a " University"? Not only did they do this, 
but they went out of their way to assert that the 
College had been established as a University from 
the first, thus reading into the existent charter of 
James VI. more than can be found there. It is true 
that '*the University of Edinburgh" had been re- 
cognised by a Commission of the General Assembly 
(above, p. 209). And another circumstance may be 
remembered, namely, that the Lord Provost and 
Magistrates of that date evinced in other matters a 
peculiar desire to do honour to the College. But 
probably the real cause of the particular phraseology 
of the Acts was that it was an echo of the language 
used in a petition of the College of Physicians for 
the appointment of Sir Robert Sibbald as Professor. 
The Physicians may very likely in their petition have 
descanted upon the College of Edinburgh having 
been founded as a University, "with the privilege 
of erecting Professions of all sorts." And the Town 
Council, without verifying the reference, would 
embody into their Act the terms suggested to them. 
This explanation is confirmed by the fact that on 

VOL. I. o 


some exceptional occasions in the eighteenth century 
the Town Council again spoke of " the University," 
but this was always on the occasion of creating new 
Professorships, and after the receipt of petitions on 
the subject The Town Council no doubt adopted 
in their Acts the language used in the petitions; 
they were not on these occasions, nor in 1685, 
changing their views as to the character of the 
" Town's College." 

But the above-quoted Acts of 1685 marked, not 
in their language but in their substance, a change of 
the greatest importance, and the inauguration of a 
new era. The Town Council, following the en- 
lightened advice of the Physicians, had appointed, 
in general terms, three Professors of Medicine. 
They did not attempt to organise a school, nor did 
they propose any division of labour. They created, 
in fact, three joint Professors of the Theory and 
Practice of Physic, and left it to themselves what 
each should teach. They gave no salaries, only 
rooms and a title, and they assigned no duties. 
They were, in fact, establishing a Faculty of 
Medicine in the College, but they were as un- 
conscious of what they were doing as Columbus 
was when he discovered the islands off the coast of 
North America. 

It seems not to be recorded to what extent 
Sutherland as Botanist, and Sibbald, Halket, and 
Pitcairne as Professors of the Practice of Physic, 
availed themselves of their rooms in College, and 
gave lectures to Students. On the 14th February 


1706, twenty -one years after his appointment as 
Professor, Sir Robert Sibbald published in the 
Edinburgh Courant the following characteristic 
advertisement :— 

" Qtiod Patrice carissimce^ et in ea Philiattis^ felix 
faustumque sit. 

'' Robertus SibbalduSy M.D.y eques auratus^ Deo 
auspice historiam naturalem, et artem medicanty quam 
Dei gratia per annos quadraginta tres feliciter exer- 
cuit, docere in privatis collegiis incipiet, mensibus ver- 
nalibus hujus anni 1 706. 

** Monendos autem cense t juvenes harum rerum 
curiosoSy se non alios in album suum conscripturum 
quam qui callent ^ linguas Latinam et Grcecamy omnem 
philosophiam et Matheseos fundamenta ; quod chiro- 
graphis preceptorum testatum vult.'* 

At the present day the form and the matter of 
this announcement seem equally remarkable. We 
should rub our eyes now if we were to meet in the 
columns of the Courant with an advertisement in 
classical Latin. The habit of writing and reading 
Latin familiarly has so completely passed away that 
few, except professional scholars, would be able to 
write as Sibbald did, or even to read off what he wrote, 
as easily as if it were English. The latter, at all 
events, any one intending to study medicine was ex- 
pected to do at the beginning of the last century. 

So far for the form : and now as to the matter. 

* Strictiy speaking, this should have been calleant. Otherwise the 
Latinity is excellent, as is also Sibbald's Latin version of the patent 
granted to the College of Physicians. 


It would seem from the expressions used — " Sir 
Robert Sibbald, who has successfully practised 
Natural History and Medicine for forty- three 
years, will begin to teach in private courses of lectures 
(in privatis coUegiis) "^ — that this was a commence- 
ment, a first course of lectures, which Sibbald now, 
after being more than twenty years Professor, pro- 
posed to give. And the same impression is con- 
veyed by the terms in which he lays down the quali- 
fications for persons to be admitted to his lectures. 
The qualifications laid down by Sibbald for Students 
joining his class — the " Medical Preliminary," so to 
speak, which he prescribes — would astonish aspirants 
to Medicine of the present day. He says that he 
shall decline to enrol any Student who does not 
know Latin and Greek, all Philosophy, and the 
fundamental parts of Mathematics. This probably 
meant that none except Graduates in Arts would be 
admitted to the class. Sibbald was in a very differ- 
ent position from a modern Professor in the Faculty 
of Medicine. In his time there was no fixed Medical 
curriculum, no division of labour. He was willing 

* The term "Colleges" was constantly employed in the last century 
to denote " courses of instruction." " Public Colleges " were regular 
and systematic prelections ; " Private Colleges " implied more familiar 
intercourse with the Students, oral examinations, and the like. 
"Private Colleges" were sometimes added by Professors to their 
Public, or regular, courses of lectures. Thus Wodrow says of Crau- 
furd, Professor of Ecclesiastical History (1731)— "He will give no 
private colleges but for money, so nobody comes to him." Bower 
is mistaken (vol. i. p. 376) in thinking that from the terms used it 
would appear that Sibbald "communicated his instructions privately 
in his own house, which was then in Carrubber*s Close." Sibbald may 
very well have given his "private colleges " in the "convenient rooms" 
provided for him by the Town Council. 



to pour out his mind (of course in Latin) on the 
topics that interested him — Natural History and the 
Practice of Physic ; but he required as his audience 
young men who could follow his Latin and who had 
cultivated minds. Nous avons changd tout cela ; the 
first Medical Professors in Edinburgh did each what 
seemed good in his own eyes. There was plenty of 
ability among them, but as yet no system. And in 
fact, the Professorships conferred upon them seem to 
have been treated by them as merely honorary titles. 

We have now to notice the expansion of the 
College in a different direction, by an increase of its 
Theological department. This was due to the great 
Carstares, one of the most sagacious and patriotic 
statesmen that Scotland has ever produced. Long 
before he had any idea of becoming Principal of the 
College of Edinburgh we find Carstares working 
for the improvement of the Scottish Universities. 
He appears, like Henderson half a century earlier 
(above, p. 214), to have dreamt of a revival of learn- 
ing in his country by means of the importation of 
Professors from abroad. 

Early in 1691 he was at Utrecht, and Calamy, 
who was studying there at the time, records that 
" one of his principal aims was to pick up some that 
might be fit and qualified to make masters of in the 
several Colleges of Scotland, which had been before 
either too much neglected, or filled with improper 
persons." ^ And on his return to London shortly 

* Calam/s Historical Account of My Own Ufe, vol. i. p. 172. 
See also Dr. Story's William Carstares (1874), p. 212. 


afterwards, Carstares wrote to his brother-in-law, 
William Dunlop, who was Principal of the College 
of Glasgow : — " I have spoken to the King about 
allowing to the Universities some part of the Bishop's 
rents, and he seems to be much more inclined to do 
so than to give them to particular men. I shall not 
fail to push the matter as far as it will go, because 
it is service to the King and country. I could be 
content, too, if you fell upon some method to call a 
foreign Professor, such as Dr. Vries of Utrecht ; if 
you get a call, I shall promote it." A little later he 
wrote to the same person : — " I think you may have 
an allowance for an extraordinary Professor of 
Divinity, and another of Philosophy, but I would 
have them from Holland, where they are very good, 
and I suppose it would please the King best.** 

The plan of Carstares for renovating the learning 
of Scotland from foreign sources was never carried 
out. But he succeeded in obtaining from William 
III. a grant to the Universities of ;^i20o sterling 
per annum out of the revenues of the Bishoprics, 
which had fallen to the Crown by the Act abolishing 
Episcopacy in Scotland. This gave an allotment 
of ;^300 per annum to each University, and it is 
needless to say that the University of Edinburgh 
ranked equally with the other three. By a sign- 
manual of 1693 each University was to receive an 
additional Professor of Divinity and ten Bursaries 
in Theology. In a special letter of donation to 
Edinburgh, 1694, it is stated that the four Pro- 
fessors are " to be called from foreign parts ** by the 


King and his successors (dictis professoribus ab 
exterts per nos nostrisque successores vocandis et prce- 
sentandis) ; this was evidently the suggestion of 
Carstares; part of his plan for renovating the 
Theology of Scotland. The Professor in Edinburgh 
was to have only ;^ioo sterling per annum, and 
there were to be twenty Bursars in Theology, with 
;^io a year each. 

This gift to the Universities was made a first 
charge on the proceeds of the " Bishops' Teinds;" no 
Professors, however, appear to have been appointed 
before the King's death in February 1702. But on 
the loth November 1702 a Mr. John Gumming 
presented himself before the Town Council of 
Edinburgh, as having been appointed Regius ^ Pro- 
fessor of Ecclesiastical History in the College. It 
IS not clear by whom Cumming's Commission was 
signed, probably this was done by Queen Anne as 
one of the early acts of her reign. The idea of 
having a foreign Professor of Divinity had been 
abandoned. And the new Chair had the province 
of Ecclesiastical History definitely assigned to it. 
This was perhaps the doing of Carstares, who soon 
acquired influence with Queen Anne. 

Whether he had, or not, anything to do with the 
next move, we know not ; but in 1 707 Anne issued 
a sign-manual, in which she altered King William's 

^ This first appointment of a Regius Professor, as well as all sub- 
sequent appointments of the same kind, was received by the Town 
Council under a protest, which of course was a mere matter of form, 
that the admission of the Professor was not to prejudice the Town 
Council's rights. 


disposition of the ;^300 a year granted to Edinburgh. 
This document stated that His late Majesty's pious 
intention in founding twenty Bursaries in Theology 
had been to provide qualified Ministers for the many 
vacancies in the Scottish Kirk after the Revolution 
Settlement ; — ^but that this end was already fulfilled, 
" most of the Kirks being now being supplied with 
learned and pious Ministers ; whereby, it now 
becomes of more use and benefit to our ancient king- 
dom to establish and settle a foundation for a Pro- 
fessor of the Public Law and the Law of Nature and 
Nations." To this Chair ;^i5o a year was allotted 
as an endowment, and to provide that amount the 
Divinity Bursars were reduced to five in number.^ 
Charles Areskine, " Professor of Philosophy in the 
College of Edinburgh *' {i.e. one of the four Regents), 
was appointed the first Professor of Public Law. A 
certain amount of mystery hangs over the creation 
of the Chair ; it was either, as some have suggested, 
a job, Areskine s influence at Court enabling him to 
obtain the diversion of Bursaries in order to create 
for his benefit a Professorship, which for a long time 
was of little or no use ; or, on the other hand, it 
may have been a measure suggested or approved by 
Carstares for providing a scientific and philosophical 
basis for a future Faculty of Laws, in imitation, 

^ The Town Council protested against this alteration, but without 
avail. Dalzel (p. 294) denounces it as ''a scandalous job, which 
ought not to have been consented to by Her Majesty's ministers, and 
which was resisted by the patrons, and the Principal, and Professors 
of the University." The patrons certainly resisted it, but there is no 
trace of Carstares, or any of the Professors, having done so. 


perhaps, of the Dutch Universities. Whichever 
was the case/ the Chair of Public Law formed a 
new feature in the College of Edinburgh (though its 
possessor was for most of his time residing abroad, 
instead of lecturing to a class), and it was the last 
addition made to the establishment before the new 
start taken in 1 708. The staff then had grown to 
be as follows : Principal, who was also nominally 
Professor of Theology; Professors of Divinity, 
Hebrew, and Church History; a Professor of Public 
Law ; a Professor of Mathematics ; four Regents of 
Philosophy ; and a Regent of Humanity. 

As the College grew in its teaching powers and 
in importance, questions as to its constitution and 
government under the vague terms of King James 
VL's charter naturally arose The Town Council 
having, as we have seen, declared it, by an Act of 
1685, to have been created as a University from the 

^ A curious fact relating to this matter may be here men- 
tioned, namely, that there is in the University Library a book 
entitled Hugonis Grotii De Jure Belli ac Pads Librorum IIL Com- 
pendiuniy Anftotationibus et Cotntnentariis Selectis illustratum. In 
usum studiosa Jttventutis Academics Edinensis. Edinburgiy a.d. 
MDCCvn. It is by William Scott, one of the Regents at that time ; it is 
dedicated to the Lord Provost and Town Council, and on the title 
page is written Liber Bibliothecce Edinensis ex dono AuthoriSy 4to 
Aprilis 1707. In a Latin preface Scott tells us that the book had 
been printed for the use of a private class to whom he had previously 
dictated its contents as a preparation for wider studies, and he gives 
in full his opening address, delivered in his private class-room (/« 
auditorio private) y on the study of Grotius. This shows that there 
was some little demand among the Students of the College for lectures 
on the Law of Nature and Nations. It is possible that Carstares may 
have suggested the delivery of these lectures as a first step towards 
the foundation of a Chair. But under the circumstances it is remark- 
able that the Chair, when founded, should have been g^ven to Areskine 
and not to Scott 


first, the Bishop of Edinburgh, John Paterson, as if 
taking them at their word, in the next year put 
forward claims to be recognised as Chancellor of the 
University of Edinburgh. According to mediaeval 
use the Bishop of a University town was almost 
invariably the Chancellor of the University ; there 
had been no Bishop at Edinburgh when the College 
was founded, but now that there was a Bishop, and 
since the College had been declared to be a Uni- 
versity, should not the Bishop be its Chancellor? 
James II. of England seems to have acquiesced in 
this view, and on the 19th March 1686 he granted 
to Bishop Paterson and his successors the office of 
Chancellor "of the College or University" of Edin- 
burgh. Nothing, however, came of this, for on the 
15th June 1686 the Scottish Parliament refused to 
ratify the appointment.^ 

Soon afterwards the King appears to have con- 
sented to rescind his decision in favour of the 
Bishops, and to constitute the Lord Provost of 
Edinburgh for all time coming Chancellor of the 
University. This concession was probably obtained 
by the influence of Sir Magnus Prince, Lord Provost 
for the time being and an Episcopalian. Certain 
curious circumstances are connected with this part of 
our history. Some light is contributed to it by a 
rare tract, entitled A Short Account of Scotland, etc., 
Written by the Late Reverend Mr. Thomas Morer, 
Minister of St. Anne's within Aldersgate, when he 
was Chaplain to a Scotch Regiment (London, 171 5). 

^ FountainhalPs Decisions, vol. i. pp. 412, 418. 


Morer was in Edinburgh in 1688, and paid a good 
deal of attention to the College. He says : — "The 
College was built about 1581, and passes for a Uni- 
versity, but it is not really so. Yet a petition was 
made to King James VI." (this must be a misprint 
for James VII.) "to that purpose, who thereupon 
promised it should be done, but was not (su), though 
the instruments are ready for the Royal allowance, 
and as the Principal told me, wants only peace and 
quietness to perfect the design." 

This, then, was the statement made by the Epis- 
copalian Principal Monro to the English chaplain 
who visited him: that James II. had orally given 
his consent to converting the College of Edinburgh 
into a University, and that a Deed drawn up for 
that purpose was waiting for the Royal sign-manual. 
Further on in his S/ior^ Account Morer says : " And 
so much for the College of Edinburgh, which, as an 
University, has the Lord Provost of the City for its 
Chancellor, and the Principal his Vice-Chancellor to 
govern it and despatch business." Instead of "has" 
in the foregoing sentence, Morer should have said 
" is intended to have," and then he would have been 
quite correct. 

What was intended we know, because the Uni- 
versity Library possesses the Deed^ which King 

* This document was mentioned in Dalzel's Historyy p. 224. It 
was submitted to the Commission of 1826-30, but, as never having been 
ratified, it was considered unimportant by them, and was not printed 
in their Report. The writer of these pages found the document amiss- 
ing, and after much inquiry despaired of finding it But it was at last 
discovered in an envelope labelled ''College Library" among the papers 


James II. was to have signed. It is a remarkable 
document in many ways. Assuming that it eman- 
ated from Sir Magnus Prince and the Town Council/ 
we see that they thought it expedient in getting the 
Lord Provost made Chancellor of the University, 
that it should be made clear that there was a Uni- 
versity of which to be Chancellor. The natural way 
to do this would have been to say that King James 
VI.'s College, having prospered, etc., should now 
have all the privileges of a University, and be con- 
stituted as such. Instead of this, the draft signature 
falsifies history, adopts the phraseology of the Com- 
mission to Sir Robert Sibbald (above, p. 223), speaks 
of the College as having been originally ** erected 
into a University," says that it was called " King 
James's University," and confirms, instead of creat- 
ing, its rights as a University. It fixes the date of 
the foundation of the College in 1581, two years too 
soon ; gives a highly-coloured representation of what 
had been done by the Town Council for the College ; 
and speaks as if all sorts of valuable property be- 
longed to the College. Its upshot is, however, to 
erect the College of Edinburgh into "a full and 
ample University," whereof the Lord Provost was 
to be Chancellor, and the Principal Vice-Chancellor. 
The change of dynasty prevented this from being 
carried out, and we have only to reflect what would 
have been the effect had it been carried out. 

of the late Principal Lee, and was restored to the Library, after fifty- 
seven years* absence, by his son, the Rev. Professor Lee of the Univer- 
sity of Glasgow. 
1 Appendix H. James ITs Draft Signature of Confirmation. 


Greater dignity would at that period have been con- 
ferred upon the College, and this Sir Magnus Prince 
no doubt honestly desired. But yet the powers of 
the Town Council were strictly reserved. All 
matters as to the regulation of degrees were to be 
carried out by the University "with consent and 
allowance of the said patrons." Thus, in view of 
subsequent struggles, the University would not have 
been in a much better position had this Deed 
obtained the Royal signature and passed under the 
Great Seal. In one respect, however, the members 
of the University would have profited ; for the draft 
document exempted them, not only in regard of 
University property, but also of their private fortunes, 
from all rates and taxation whatsoever, which would 
be very agreeable at the present day. 

But all this having fallen to the ground, the 
College was left on its old lines, and a question in 
course of time developed itself as to the rights of 
internal administration. After 1628, when the 
Town Council, by an elaborate code of regulations, 
settled the graduation system and the discipline of 
the College, the Principal and Regents were for a 
long time left to themselves to carry on the routine 
of administration. They of course deliberated 
among themselves as to arrangements and cases of 
discipline; they started a Minute Book, which 
came afterwards to be called the "Old College 
Record ; " and from the middle of the seventeenth 
century onwards they began to consider and style 
themselves "the Faculty of Philosophy." This 


title was distinctly inserted into a paper of sixteen 
Articles for the improvement of College discipline, 
which they drew up in 1668 and submitted to the 
Town Council, who without comment confirmed the 
Articles. In extracts from the "Old College 
Record" from 1686 to 1699 we find repeated 
mention of "sittings of the Faculty" and "acts of 
the Faculty." 

On the 15th December 1695 ^ ^^w and pecu- 
liar function was performed by the College of 
Edinburgh. Hitherto it had only conferred degrees 
in Philosophy (or Arts) on Students who had gone 
through their course, but now all of a sudden we 
find it conferring an honorary degree in Civil Law 
on a certain Joseph Broun, who is said to have 
been an Englishman, and to have presented ;^i5 
to the Library in token of his gratitude. The 
history of this transaction is lost ; the Town Council 
either sanctioned or, more probably, promoted the 
granting of this honorary degree, but it was no 
doubt voted by the " Faculty " and conferred by the 
hands of the Principal. To confer a degree in 
Civil Law, for the teaching of which there was as 
yet no provision, was a distinct enlargement of the 
degree-giving functions of the College, which by the 
Act of Parliament of 1621 had been defined to be 
a College of Arts and Theology. 

After this it is no wonder that at the end of 
the century we find extracted from the College 
Record, without precise date assigned, an order for 
the punishment of dice-playing among the Students, 


which begins " Senattts Academicus certior factus^ 
etc., showing that the Principals, Regents, and 
Professors had now got so far as to style themselves 
the Senate of a University. But they were soon 
to learn how devoid of legal claim to self-govern- 
ment as a University the College of Edinburgh 
was, how entirely any freedom of action which its 
officials enjoyed was a mere matter of sufferance. 

Principal Rule appears to have died in 1701, so 
that there was a considerable interregnum between 
his death and the appointment of his successor, the 
great Carstares, in May 1703. The Regents and 
Professors were therefore without a head when 
on the 20th January 1 703 they passed the following 
resolution : — 

''Sederunt — Mr. Andrew Massie, Pr., Mr. 
William Law, Mr. James Gregory,^ Mr. William 
Scott, Mr. Charles Areskine, Mr. Lawrence Dundas. 

"The Faculty of Philosophy in the University 
of Edinburgh, taking to their consideration the 
reasons offered by Mr. Scott why his magistrand 
class should be privately graduated, and being fully 
satisfied with the same, do unanimously (according 
to their undoubted right contained in the charter 
of erection, and their constant and uninterrupted 

* Gregory was Professor of Mathematics ; Dundas, Regent of 
Humanity ; the others were the four rotating Regents. The Pro- 
fessors of Divinity, Hebrew, Botany, and the Practice of Physic, not 
belonging to the Faculty of Philosophy, did not take part in this 
business ; but according to the City Records, John Gumming, the 
newly-created Professor of Ecclesiastical History, appears to have 
signed the Act of the " Faculty of Philosophy,** as if being reckoned 
^ one of that Faculty. 



custom in such cases) appoint the said class to be 
laureated privately upon the last Tuesday of April 
next, being the 27th day of the month." 

This was clearly an ill-advised proceeding. It 
is difficult to understand what the Regents meant 
by their " undoubted right contained in the charter 
of erection." It looks like a piece of rash and 
Ignorant bravado. The laureations, as we have 
seen above (p. 154), were public functions in which 
the Town Council, the Ministers, and even the 
College of Justice, had at one time taken consider- 
able interest. That interest, after a century of their 
continuance, may have somewhat abated. Still it 
was a strong measure to say in any particular year 
that there should be no public graduation. There 
may have been good reasons for this in 1 703, but 
the natural course would have been to lay these 
reasons before the Town Council and request sanc- 
tion for the proposed arrangement. Instead of 
which, the Regents passed and recorded their own 
fiat in very ungracious terms. Their aggressive, 
not to say mutinous, language probably concealed 
some consciousness of the actual weakness of their 
position ; and it was no less than a direct challenge 
to the Town Council to try conclusions with them, 
which that body did not hesitate to do. 

The Lord Provost, Sir Hugh Cunningham, 
announced a visitation of the College, to be held 
on the 15th February 1703. On which day there 
were assembled in the Library the Lord Provost, 
Magistrates, and Council, bringing with them two 


Assessors ; namely, Sir James Stewart, Lord Advo- 
cate and a veteran in statesmanship, and Sir Gilbert 
Elliot, afterwards a Lord of Session and First Lord 
Minto ; and eight Ministers of the City. The 
" Masters of the College " were called in, when 
there appeared the six persons above mentioned 
as forming the sederunt of '* the Faculty," and in 
addition to them the Professors of Divinity, Hebrew, 
and Ecclesiastical History. It is observable that 
the Professors of Botany and Practice of Physic 
do not seem to have been reckoned among the 
** Masters." 

The Lord Provost ordered the Laws given by 
the Council of Edinburgh, 1628, to be read, and 
especially the acts concerning Visitation, 1628 and 
1663. He then said that he had seen "an unwar- 
rantable Act of the Masters of the College, viz. the 
Professors of Philosophy, Humanity, Mathematics, 
and Church History, in which they asserted them- 
selves a Faculty empowered by a charter of erection, 
etc. ; " and "desired the pretended Act to be read." 

The Lord Advocate (having previously con- 
ferred with the Regents and Professors) here 
mediated, and asked that the reading of the Act 
should be deferred, as the Masters were willing to 
pass from the Act, and to withdraw the protest 
they had previously made anent the electing of a 
Commissioner from the College to the General 
Assembly.^ And his Lordship offered "to wait 

* The practice had been for the College to elect their Member of 
Assembly in conjunction with the Town Council Principal Rule, 

VOL. I. R 


upon any Committee of the Council, and make such 
overtures as might regulate such matters in time 
coming, to the honour of the Council, as patrons, 
and advantage of the Masters, with their due 
dependence upon the Council." The Masters were 
then interrogated individually if they agreed to the 
overture of the Lord Advocate, and they each 
severally gave their consent. The Meeting then 
terminated ; the Lord Advocate agreeing to draw 
up a statement of the proceedings. 

The patrons, to assert their authority, passed an 
order that Mr. Scott's class should be publicly 
graduated on the first Tuesday of May, but this 
order was not obeyed. On the 12th May Mr. Scott 
petitioned the Council, alleging that many of his 
class had dispersed into the country, and that "other 
insuperable difficulties falling in the way of a public 
graduation in this juncture, the same could not be 
performed, and craving therefore the Council to 
allow the said class to be graduated privately, pro 
hoc vice!' To this petition the Council assented. 
But the Regents had in the meantime very much 
taken the matter into their own hands ; for as many 
as fourteen of the class had been already privately 

however, always conformed with this practice under reservation that 
compliance with it should not be interpreted as a giving up by the 
College of its right to elect its own representative. In the interval 
between the death of Principal Rule and the appointment of Principal 
Carstares, the Regents being in their aggressive mood, one of them 
entered a protest against the Town Council's interfering in the election 
by the College of a Member of Assembly. And to this protest all the 
Regents and Professors, except one, subscribed their names. This 
was treated as an act of insubordination by the Town Council. 


graduated, which the Town Council commented on, 
" expressly inhibiting " such conduct for the future. 
This little conflict had been wholly unnecessary, 
for it is evident that private graduation would have 
been at once agreed to, if civilly asked for. And 
the result of the whole matter was to put back the 
growth of the independence of the College for some 
time to come. The Regents should never have 
raised a legal issue; but, as it was, the Lord 
Advocate, a man of great ability and experience, and 
very well disposed to the College, was called in to 
pronounce upon the legal aspect of the question, 
and he, after interposing so as to prevent any un- 
seemly rupture between the parties, drew up a minute 
of the Act of Visitation, in which, after citing the 
charter of James VI., he laid it down that "con- 
formably thereto, and ever since the erecting of the 
said College, the Magistrates and Council have had 
and exercised the only and full government of the 
said College." There was nothing more to be said 
on the subject ; the "undoubted right " of the Regents 
"contained in the charter of erection," and their 
" constant and uninterrupted custom in such cases," 
vanished to the winds. Thus, at the beginning of 
the eighteenth century, the absolute powers of the 
Town Council over the College were declared by 
legal authority. And not only was this the case, but 
also what had occurred naturally stirred up a spirit 
of governing activity in the Town Council. On the 
3d May 1 703, when Carstares came to be installed 
as Principal, he was presented by the Lord Provost 


with a fresh set of rules drawn up in Latin for his 
guidance. Carstares was too old a statesman either 
to quarrel with the patrons, or to suffer any deroga- 
tion from the rights of his position. So with suavity 
he addressed Sir Hugh Cunningham : "You maybe 
sure, my Lord, that I would have called for any rule 
that may concern my post from the Keeper of the 
Library, but I shall read the paper which your 
Lordship hath given me; yet, my Lord, I cannot 
but tell your Lordship and the other worthy magis- 
trates of the city that are here present, that I look 
upon myself as coming into this post upon no other 
terms than what my predecessors did ; and that, as 
to my part, all affairs relating to this College remain 
entire." Gradually Carstares acquired a great deal 
of influence with the Town Council ; and, had he 
been there a few months earlier to guide his Regents, 
he would probably have restrained them from their 
mistaken course of action. 

The results of this continued to appear in exhibi- 
tions of authority on the part of the Town Council. 
On the 1 2th May 1703 they passed an order that 
all diplomas of graduation must have the Town's 
Seal appended to them in a white iron box. The 
Primar, with three or four of the Regents, were to 
sign the diploma, and the Librarian was not to exact 
above ;^4 (Scots) as a fee, while poor Students were 
to have the diploma gratis. All certificates of 
graduation were to make honourable mention of the 
Town Council as patrons ! 

In October of the same year they issued a 



vexatious order to the effect that as some of the 
Masters or Regents of the College had "never 
extracted or taken out their Acts of Admission," 
they were to have no more salary paid them until 
they should have done so. 

And in 1704 they proceeded to a still more 
arbitrary act of authority in ordering the College 
Records to be seized^ on the ground of certain 
alleged inaccuracies, which seem very trifling ; the 
real blot in the eyes of the Town Council being, 
that "In the 19th page it is observed that the word 
Faculty is then first assumed, and without warrant, 

* At first the order was that the book be " transsumed " with a 
view to its being corrected ; Carstares, on behalf of himself and the 
Regents, craved, " with all submission," to have it recorded that it was 
not with their will that the book was delivered up. He was told that 
the book was only wanted for correction. But next year (1705) the 
Town Council ** appointed the book belonging to the College of Edin- 
burgh, entitled Register of the University of Edinburgh^ to be put up 
in the charter-house ; and ordained their clerk to write at the end of 
it, that the same was condemned as informal, and in many ways 
vitiated." It was kept by the Town Council thenceforward, but was 
produced, by the order of the Court of Session, at the great case of 
the Town Council versus the University in 1825-29. And now it was 
the fate of this luckless Record to perish in obscurity. It became part 
of the " process " in the lawsuit, and as such ought still to be in the 
Register House, where the other documents of the process lie, or else 
it should have been restored to the keeping of the Town Council. 
But we find it noted that the book was borrowed by Messrs. Cran- 
stoun and Anderson, law agents for the Senatus, and never returned. 
And the writer of these pages on applying to Messrs. J. and F. 
Anderson, lineal successors to Messrs. Cranstoun and Anderson, and 
occupying the same premises, found it hopeless to inquire after a 
MS. volume received by their predecessors more than half a century 
before. Masses of documents had, in the meantime, been carted 
away and reduced to pulp by the papermaker. Such was the fate of 
this book ; a few extracts, suited to the purposes of the defendants in 
the lawsuit, were printed, and these remain, but the "Old College 
Record" from 1645 to ^7^3 would surely have contained racy entries 
and perhaps valuable hints, and its loss must be deplored. 



or any former practice, inserted in October 1686. 
And although the College had been now one 
hundred years standing before the said time, no 
record bears the word ' Faculty.' " This word 
" Faculty " was evidently as a red rag to the Town 
Council, and their anger at it made them forget that 
in 1668, eighteen years prior to the obnoxious entry, 
they had themselves endorsed a set of regulations, 
one of which bore that theses for graduation 
" must be revised and cognosced upon by the whole 
Faculty." They forgot also that " the Faculty " of 
the College of Edinburgh had been distinctly recog- 
nised in a letter under the Great Seal of William III. 
(1694), in which the words occur "as shall seem 
expedient to the said College or its Faculty " 
(dictae academiae vel facultati suae expediens visum 
fuerit).^ And still more did they forget their own 
declaration in 1685 (see above, p. 223), that the 
College of this City was "from the original erec- 
tion and foundation thereof erected as a University." 
It was now made clear that the ordinary rights of a 
University were denied to be inherent in the College 
of Edinburgh, and at the same time that College 
was humiliated by being deprived of its Records. 

Thus what may be called the first period of this 
history drew to its close under unpleasant circum- 
stances the results of a rupture between the teachers 
of the College and their patrons the Town Council. 

* This form of expression was doubtless used at the. instance of 
Carstares, who had previously been in correspondence with Dr. Rule, 
and of course had learned from him to style the Principal and Regents 
of the College " the Faculty ** as their proper official designation. 


In itself this rupture was a sign of the growing 
strength of the College. The Regents and Pro- 
fessors doubtless thought themselves justified in 
claiming an independence equal to that enjoyed by 
the Senatus of any of the older Universities, on a 
level with which the College of Edinburgh had been 
repeatedly placed. But they were imprudent in 
stepping forward to assert their position without 
ascertaining, by legal advice, what it really was. 
They ignored the tremendous powers given to the 
Town Council by the charter of James VI. And 
hence they brought upon themselves the humiliation 
which has been related. The wisdom of Carstares 
soon restored happier relations, and there set in a 
halcyon period, which lasted, with hardly a cloud, 
for more than a century. After that the University, 
having grown exceedingly strong, again thought 
that it could throw off the government of the Town 
Council, but, as we shall see, with as bad success as 
the Regents met with in 1 703. 

Appendix F. Marischall College. 

George Keith, fifth Earl Marischall, was educated at King's 
College Aberdeen, and was said at the age of eighteen to have 
been proficient in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew : he then went for 
further study to France, where he took the opportunity to perfect 
himself in the knowledge of arms and feats of athletic jugglery 
in vogue at the time. Proceeding to Geneva, he learned Rhetoric 
and Divinity from Theodore Beza. Keith then went the round 
of the Courts of Europe. After seven years* absence he returned 
to Scotland, and became " art and part " in the slaughter of hia 


relative, William Keith, but got a remissiou under the Great Seal. 
He succeeded to the Earldom in 1581, and soon afterwards was 
mixed up in the Raid of Ruthven ; but, sitting in an assize of 
Peers, he voted for the guilt of the Earl of Gowrie. He went to 
Denmark as ambassador to get the Princess Anne for James VI., 
and was joined there by the King. He bore all the expense of 
the embassy, amounting to 3156 merks. In 1583 he had been 
one of the Commissioners for the Erectio nova of King's College 
(see above, p. 90). This great, splendid, and highly-cultivated 
nobleman, who apparently united some of the violent spirit of 
the times with "the humour of a scholar,*' signed in 1593 a deed, 
which was styled Nova Academic Abredoninsis per Comitem 
Mariscallum^ Audoritate Regia^ Erectio et Institutio, 

This document, which is the Charter of Foundation for 
Marischall College, is in many points curious and interesting. 
The preamble gives quite general reasons ; there is no mention of 
what was probably the real object — to found a College on Refor- 
mation principles ; it is only said that the want of public instruc- 
tion {publica disciplina) is everywhere felt in the northern parts of 
Scotland. " We follow," says the Earl, " the example of Kings, 
Princes, Nobles, and Bishops, who have founded Colleges. We 
wish to institute at New Aberdeen a Gymnasium in the house 
formerly belonging to the Franciscans. Therefore we grant and 
mortify" (then follows a list of Church properties which had 
come into possession of the Earl). "These revenues for the 
edification of youth " were to be distributed among the following 
persons : a Gymnasiarch, three Regents, six pupils (Academiae 
alumnos) a Steward, and a Cook, 

In the course of teaching prescribed, we see that the Regia 
Erectio of the College of Glasgow (above, pp. 84-87) is copied, 
and often its exact terms are reproduced. Thus, the Gymnasiarch 
must be learned in Hebrew and Syriac ; the Regents are each to 
be confined to special subjects, " so that the youths ascending by 
degrees may find at each stage a teacher worthy of their zeal and 
ability." In these and many other details we see the ideas of 
Andrew Melville. 

But the Regia Erectio was drawn up for a College which was 
within a previously-existing University, and this was not the case 
at New Aberdeen. Ix)rd Marischall's charter, however, ignores 


this difference of circumstances, and delegates, for instance, various 
functions to the Chancellor, while making no provision for the 
appointment of such an officer. Perhaps it was intended that 
the office of Chancellor should be retained in Earl Marischall's 
£unily — ^but this is never specified. 

Throughout the deed the word Academia is used in a twofold 
sense, sometimes meaning the " College," sometimes the " Uni- 
versity." Thus, when it is said that none of the Bursars may 
sleep ^^ extra Acadtmiam^^ the four walls of the College are 
implied; when it is enjoined that the Rector be elected "per 
omnes Academia Suppositos " divided into four nations, we have 
terms only applicable to a University. Evidently Lord Mari- 
schall's Academia was to be at once a College and a University. 
Degree-giving powers were assumed for it. The Gymnasiarch or 
Principal was to graduate such Students who deserved it at the 
end of a four years* course. The idea plainly was that the Bursars 
on the foundation would form a nucleus, but that these would 
be supplemented by a large number of outside Students, who, 
divided into nations, would elect their several Procuratores^ 
by whom the Rector would be elected. The Rector was to 
exercise all the functions — " qua Redores Academia GlasguensiSy 
EdinburgensiSy rel cujusris alterius " — ^are understood to have the 
power or duty of exercising. We observe here that the Rector 
of the College of Edinburgh is placed on the same footing with 
the Rector of the University of Glasgow, which is the more 
remarkable, as in 1593, when this deed was drawn, the office of 
Rector at Edinburgh had not been separated from the Principal- 
ship, but had been given as a mere courtesy title to Rollock. 
There was in the charter no recognition of the University of Old 
Aberdeen. In one matter only, namely, in the examination and 
admission of the Masters of Marischall College, the Principal of 
King's College was to be called in to assist 

An Act of Parliament of 1593, after stating in preamble that 
George Earl Marischall " has both founded and erected a College 
within the burgh of New Aberdeen," ratified the foundation, and 
gave the College " all freedoms, franchises, liberties, free privileges 
and jurisdiction, that to a free College within this realm by law 
and practice is known to appertain." But the important proviso 
was added that "the Masters, members, students, bursars, and 


whole inhabitants of the said College shall be subject to the 
jurisdiction of the Provost, Bailies, and Council of the said burgh 
of Aberdeen, in all things to be done and committed by them out- 
side the walls of the said College^ and within the territories or 
freedom of the said burgh." Thus the Legislature regarded 
Marischall College as bounded by its walls, and not as a Uni- 
versity in the mediaeval sense. But by ratifying the charter they 
ratified the power of granting degrees which had been assumed in 
the charter. And the Act of 162 1, by placing the College of 
Edinburgh on the same footing as Marischall College, confirmed 
the legality of its degrees. 

Appendix G. History of the University Mace. 

There used to be a tradition that in 1683 Bishop Kennedy's 
tomb at St Andrews was opened in search of treasures which had 
been hidden there during the Reformation troubles, and that, 
besides other things, five silver Maces were discovered, whereof 
two were kept in St Andrews and the other three distributed to 
the Universities of Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh. As a 
matter of fact there are now three Maces at St Andrews, and 
these may very likely have been found in Kennedy's tomb. But 
there is no probability in the story that the other Universities 
were presented with Maces issuing from that receptacle. It is 
certain that the College of Edinburgh possessed a Mace of its 
own in 1640, which was carried before Henderson, as Rector, 
though how it was obtained is not recorded. This Mace had a 
history : it was borrowed by the Town Council " for use of the 
public" in 165 1 ; and was restored to the College Librarians in 
165s ; and in 1660 it was "lent to the Macer of the Committee 
of Parliament, till they get one of their own." " On the night 
betwixt the 29th and 30th October 1787 " (as reported by Pro- 
fessor Dalzel, then Librarian) " the door of the Library was broken 
open by thieves, and the mace stolen from the press where it was 
usually deposited." The Magistrates immediately, but without 
effect, offered " a reward of ten guineas for the discovery of the 

On the 2d October 1789, as stated in the Caledonian Mercury^ 
"William Creech, Esqre. (the College Bailie) in name of the 


Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Council, presented to the Senatus 
Academicus of the University of Edinburgh, assembled in the 
Library, an elegant new silver Mace, decorated with the Royal 
Ensigns of Ring James VL, the Founder of the College, and with 
the Arms of the City and University beautifully enchased, and 
having the following inscription engraved on one of the compart- 
ments under the Crown : 

Nova Hac 

Clava Argentea 

Academiam Suam Donavit 

Senatus Edinburgensis 

Consule Tho. Elder 

Praetore Academico 

GuL Creech 

A.D. 1789." 

There was a very special and extraordinary reason for this act 
of liberality, namely, that public opinion in Edinburgh had come 
to attribute the theft committed in the College to one of the Town 
Council themselves. This was the notorious Deacon Brodie, a 
man of highly respectable exterior and popular manners, who 
seems to have associated himself with the lowest ruffians in a 
series of burglaries, while others he committed single-handed. 
His habits of cock-fighting and gambling probably required larger 
funds than his trade, that of a cabinetmaker, would supply; 
while his skill in that trade would be serviceable to him in his 
additional vocation of burglar. He was tried and condemned to 
death on the 29th August 1788 for robbing the Excise Office; 
and after his execution people began "to put two and two 
together," and to lay the affair of the College Mace at the 
Deacon's door. The hypothesis seems probable; for Deacon 
Brodie's official position, as one of the patrons of the College, 
would make him well informed as to the place of custody of the 
Mace, while his proclivities would induce him to abstract it 
At all events it is said that the Town Council were so " black 
affironted"^ at the disgrace brought upon them by an unworthy 
member of their body that they hastened to get the matter hushed 
up by having a new Mace made and presented to the College. 

^ See Lieut. -CoL A. Fergusson's biography of Tfu Hon. Henry Erskinc 
(1883), p. 309. 


Mutual compliments were then interchanged between the Town 
Council and the Professors ; and Principal Robertson, in name of 
the Senatus, " respectfully received and gratefully acknowledged " 
the gift. And the new Mace (which is the one still used by the 
University) came, in fact, just in time to be carried in procession 
at the laying of the foundation-stone of the new University 
Buildings in November ryS^. 

In the above-quoted description of the Mace the " Arms of 
the University " are mentioned. These Anns seem to have been 
devised for the express purpose of being engraved on the Mace. 
And the University acquired at the same time not only its Mace, 
but also armorial bearings and a Common Seal. On the 3d 
October 1789 "Mr. Dalzel reported that whereas the University 
were not in possession of a Common Seal for affixing or suspend- 
ing to their Diplomas or public Deeds, but were under the 
necessity at every graduation of applying for one of the City seals, 
which was inconvenient and unsuitable to the dignity of the Uni- 
versity, he, with the approbation of several of his Colleagues, had 
desired Mr. James Cummjmg, of the Lyon Office, to make out a 
device, which had been done accordingly ; and that Mr. Robert 
Boswell, the Lyon King of Arms's Deputy had consented at the 
desire of Mr. Fraser Tytler to issue a patent from the said office 
(without demanding the usual fees) authorising the College to 
use the said Device as their Arms in all time to come, vit. Arpnl 
on a Sahire Asure between a Thistle in chief Proper and a Castle 
on a Rock in base Sable a Book expanded Or; as the same are 
represented on one of the compartments of the new Mace. 
Which having met with the approbation of the Senatus Aca- 
demicus, they ordered the said Arms to be engraved on a Seal, 
to be used for the future as the Seal of the University." 


Appendix H. Document Labelled Signature of Confirma- 
tion IN Favours of the University of Edinburgh, 1688. 
(Preserved in the University Library.) 

Our Soveraign Lord taking into his Royal! consideration the 
many large and ample priveledges and Immunities granted by his 
Matie's Royall Grandfather King James the Sixth of blessed 
memorie and since ratified and confirmed by his Matie's Royal 
ffather and Brother to and in favours of the university of Edin- 
burgh, His Matie also out of his ffatherly care and Royall zeall 
for the promotting and encouraging pietie and learning being no 
less desirous that the s^ university should have all due encourage- 
ments and protections from his Matie and his Matie's Royall 
Successors, Therefore His Matie with advice and consent of 
his Matie's Right trust ie Cousin and Councellour James Earl of 
Perth etc Lord High Chancellour of the Kingdome of Scotland 
John Marquess of Athol eta Lord privie seal his Matie's well 
beloved and trustie cousins and councellors William Duke of 
Hamilton etc George Duke of Gordon etc his Matie's well 
beloved cousins and councellours John Earle of Tweeddale etc. 
John Earle of Belcarres etc George Viscount of Tarbot etc 
Lord Register His Matie's commissioners for the Thesaurie 
comptrollers and Thesaurie for new augmentations and also with 
advice and consent of the Remnant Lords and others Commis- 
sioners of his Matie's exchequer within the s** Kingdome Ordains 
an charter to be made and past under his Matie's great Seall of 
the s^ Kingdom of Scotland ratifieing and approving and for his 
Matie and his Matie's Royall successors perpetually confirming 
likeas his matie with advice and consent fors^ by these pnts 
Ratifies and approves and for his Matie's Royall Successors per- 
petually confirms all and sundry Erections Donations Mortifica- 
tions Charters Infeftments former confirmations and all other 
rights and securities whatsomever granted by his Matie's Royall 
Grandfather King James the sixth His Matie's Royall ffather 
King Charles the first and his Matie's Royall Brother King 
Charles the second of blessed memorie or by any other persons 
to and in favours of the s*^ university of Edinburgh and to the 
Principall professors Regents Masters scollars students Bursars 
Janitors and all other officers and members of the samen of all 


and hail the fabrick and buildings belonging to the sA university 
with the yard and pertinents thereof and of all and sundry the 
lands rents tenements possessions annual rents Teinds and other 
goods belonging to them and all priveledges Immunities liberties 
and exemptions enjoyed or that might been enjoyed by them of 
whatsomever tenor qualitie contents and nature the samen be of 
in haill heads clauses and circumstances of the s^ Charters erec- 
tions and Donations dispensing hereby with the generality of this 
present ratification and declairing the samen to be valid effectual! 
and sufficient to the s*^ university and to the s^ principal! pro- 
fessors other masters and members of the samen as if everie 
particular Charter either of Erection Donation and Mortification 
were herein Insert and specially set down whereanent and with 
all and sundry other objections which may be made or alleadged 
against the validitie of the s^ rights or this present confirmation 
his Matie for himself and for his Matie's Royall successors hath 
dispensed and by thir dispenses forever. And further his 
Matie considering the many good and thankful services done to 
his Matie and his Royall progenitors by the Provost Bailies 
Council! and communitie of the burgh of Edinburgh patrons of 
the s^ university and the great sums of money Doted and Morti- 
fied by them to the use thereof at the erection of the samen in 
Anno on thousand five hundred and eightie on years and of the 
great charges and expenses since bestowed by them in erecting 
the buildings thereof being now beutified with a goodly fabrick 
and furnished with a famous library and good store of mathemati- 
cal instruments and other furniture befitting an university and of 
the great care taken by them in managing the mortifications be- 
stowed upon the s^ university overseeing the same and placeing 
therein from time to time since the foundation thereof professors 
under whom it has and does flourish with great success and his 
matie out of his sincere and ffatherly care and Royal! zeal! 
for propagating learning so necessarie and profitable both to 
church and State being willing to further testifie his Royall 
kindness favour and signal! good will to the s^ universitie being 
named by his Matie's Royall Grandfather King James Uni- 
versitie with advice and consent fors** hath not onlie taken 
and revived but hereby takes and revives the s** University of 
Edinburgh and haill schools and faculties thereof and the 


Principall professors and other Members of the samen with all 
and Sundry their priveledges Immunities exemptions Lands 
revenues tenements and other goods gear als well moveable 
as reall spirituall as temporall either within the s^ city of Edin- 
burgh as in any other place within the s^ Kingdome unto his 
Matie's and his Royall Successors' firm grace Royall care protec- 
tion and patrocine now and in all time coming. But also 
in fortification of all the former erections Donations Mortifica- 
tions charters Infeftments and other rights of the s*^ CoUedge 
erected and (? an) universitie and but prejudice to any thereof in 
any sort his Matie of his Royall authority princely power certain 
knowledge and proper motive hath of new constitute created 
erected and Incorporated and by the tenor hereof for his Matie 
and his Royall Successors with advice and consent above written 
of new makes constitutes creates erects and Incorporates the 
s^ university of Edinburgh in an full and ample universitie to be 
called now as of befor and in all time coming King James's 
Universitie of new giving granting disponing and for his Matie 
and his Royall Successors with advice and consent fors** perpetu- 
ally confirming to the s*^ university Principall professors Regents 
Masters Members whatsomever thereof all and haill the Lands 
Rents tenements possessions annual rents teinds and other goods 
belonging to them and all and whatsomever priveledges Immunities 
Liberties and exemptions they formerly possesst or might have 
possest and enjoyed and that in the most full and ample manner are 
may or can be possest and enjoyed by any other university within 
or without the s^ ancient Kingdome admitting the generality hereof 
to be als valid as if the s^ lands teinds priveledges exemptions and 
others fors** were particularly enumerate Insert and Ingrossed 
hereintill with the not doing whereof and with all that may be 
objected against this present new gift and erection his matie for 
himself and his Royall Successors with advice and consent fors** 
hath dispensed and be thir presents dispenses for ever. And 
HEREBY DECLAREING that the Provost Bailics and town councill of 
Ed' have been are and shall be the sole and undoubted Patrons 
of the s^ universitie and have the alone right and power of nomi- 
nating and presenting to all places and professions either for the 
time vacant or that may afterwards fall to vake belonging to the 
s<^ universitie and hereby nominating appointing and ordaining 



Likeas his Matie of his royall good will and pleasure with consent 
fors*^ by the tenor hereof nominats appoints and ordains the R' 
Honourable Sir Magnus prince present Provost and his Suc- 
cessors provosts of Ed' (excluding all others) to be now and in 
all time coming chancellours of the s^ university with full power 
and priveledge to the s^ universitie (But prejudice of the general 
priveledges above written) of having and enjoying the profession 
of Philologie als well in the Hebrew Greek Latin Orientall ffrench 
and other Languages as in all its other parts the professions of 
historie Mathematiques Philosophy Medicine Law and Theologie 
in all their parts and all other faculties and professions of all arts 
and sciences whatsomever whither (sic) already established or to 
be established in the s^ universitie and that are or may be teached 
in any other universitie within or without the s^ ancient King- 
dome and to preserve and maintain such of the s^ professions as 
are already established. And for further promotion and advance- 
ment of learning with consent and allowance of their s^ patrons 
to revive or erect such of the s^ professions or such part of the 
same as are in desuetude or not yet established in the s*^ univer- 
sitie. And with consent fors** to form themselves from time to 
time into such faculties and societies as their number frequencie 
Revenues and Rents will allow and maintain. And to conferre 
the Degrees of Batchelours Licentiats Doctors and all other 
degrees suitable in the s^ respective arts and sciences according 
to the usuall and accustomed ceremonies which degrees are to be 
conferred by the Principall as Vice-chancellour of the Universitie 
ex officio with the advice and concurrence of the respective Acui- 
ties which the receivers of the s^ degree shall be of and with 
power to the fors** Chancellour of the s^ universitie with the Bailies 
and Council of Ed' to visit the s^ universitie and take the adminis- 
tration of the rents and revenues thereof and to take care of the 
schools chambers dwelling houses and other fiabricks belonging 
thereto. And Lastly with the speciall priveledge that the s*^ uni- 
versitie Principall professors Regents Masters and Members thereof 
whatsomever their Lands rents possessions and goods reall or move- 
able belonging either to their offices or their private fortunes shall 
be free and exempted from all stents taxations cesses Impositions 
customs exactions and collections Imposed or to be imposed upon 
the subjects of the s^ Kingdome and of all watchings wardings 


leveings hosts and other burdens or services whatsomever als well 
not named as named bygone present as in all time coming. 
Hereby discharging all and sundry his Matie's subjects Tacksmen 
Collectors Waiters and all other whom it effeirs from troubling or 
molesting the s^ universitie of Ed*^ Principall Masters and 
Members thereof their lands rents possessions or goods whatsom- 
ever either reall or personall belonging to the communitie of the 
s*^ universitie or to themselves in particular for the s*^ taxations 
cesses and others fors^ bygone and in all time coming and of 
their offices in that part and that they do nothing contrarie to the 
fors^ priveledges Immunities and exemptions hereby granted unto 
them under all highest pain. And his Matie faithfullie promisses 
in verbo principis to cause the fors<* Charter to be ratified in his 
matie's next parliament by his Matie with consent of the estates 
thereof and ordains the samen Charter with this declaration of 
his Matie's will to be contained therein to be a sufficient warrant 
for that effect and that the fors^ charter be further extended in 
the best and most ample forme with all clauses needfull and that 
precepts be orderly directed thereupon in form as effeirs. Given at 

VOL. I. wS 



" From precedent to precedent broadening down." 

I. The period of time traversed in the last chapter 
was, as regards the national history, an "hour of 
crowded life," full of vicissitudes and death-struggles 
for religious and civil liberty, and culminating in the 
Revolution Settlement and the Union with England. 
But to the historian of the University of Edinburgh, 
as such, all those stirring crises are indifferent ; for 
his purpose they are nihil ad rem, because none of 
them really affected the condition or progress of the 
University. All that can be said about them is that 
times of religious conflict are always unfavourable 
to learning and science, and that the period of the 
Covenanters was no exception to this rule. For 
the rest, political changes affected the personnel of 
the College of Edinburgh from time to time during 
the seventeenth century, but never its institutions. 
Owing to Cromwell coming into power Colville 
was for some time kept out of the Principalship,^ 

^ As will be related in Vol. II. 



and Leigh ton was put in. It was a great blessing to 
the College for the time to have Leighton as its 
Principal, but he cannot be said to have changed the 
College in any way. Again, when William III. and 
the Presbyterians got the ascendency, a Royal Com- 
mission removed the Episcopalian Principal Monro 
and Professor Strachan from their appointments, 
but no organic changes ensued. The Town Council 
appear always to have followed the Government in 
religious as well as political principles. The attend- 
ance of Students was said never to have been 
affected by the troubles of the times. As a rule 
the Students were Covenanters, and they rioted 
and " burnt the Pope " when the Duke of York was 
at Holyrood, but nothing serious came of it. 

The first great organic change, which in fact 
turned the College of Edinburgh into a University, 
was made immediately after the Union with England. 
And in the ensuing period of peace and prosperity 
there came the successive steps of the extraordinary 
process of development which we have now to relate. 
It has been seen before how the Book of Discipline ^ 
and Andrew Melville, and all the most enlightened 
Reformers, aimed at the introduction of professorial 
teaching into the Universities of Scotland, and yet 
how all the Universities down to the eighteenth 
century clung to the practice of " Regenting." Now 
at last, in Edinburgh, the change was to be made. 
Carstares was now Principal, and we cannot doubt 
that he would see and seize every opportunity 
which occurred for raising the University teaching 


of his country, though, like a Baron Stockmar, he 
did not appear in what was being done. In 1707 
a remarkable thing occurred ; for William Scott, one 
of the Regents, " obtained a patent from the Crown 
for the profession of Greek, by the which he was 
constitute her Majesty's sole Professor of Greek in 
the University of Edinburgh."^ It is difficult not 
to suppose that Carstares had a hand in this. We 
have before seen (p. 233, note) that this same 
William Scott had commenced teaching Public Law 
in the College with a view to obtaining a chair of 
the subject to be founded by Queen Anne, but 
that Areskine, by his family influence, had stepped 
in and secured the Chair. Perhaps now, as a 
solatiu7n, Carstares, who was high in favour with 
the Queen, obtained him this patent to be Professor 
of Greek. 

The move was not only a proper one in itself, 
but it was consistent with the views of the Parlia- 
mentary ** Commission for visitation of Universities, 
Colleges, and Schools/* who in 1699 made an order 
for the specialising of Greek in the Universities. 
They laid it down that the teacher of the first class 
was to be ** fixed and not ambulatory ;" throughout 
the whole year he was to teach "only the Greek 
Grammar and proper Greek authors, without teach- 
ing so much as any strtutura syllogismi, or anything 

^ We get this information from a curious paper written by Colin 
Drummond in 1731, and afterwards discovered and printed in the 
Scots Magazine for 1829. Drummond succeeded to the Chair of 
Greek in 1730, and the object of his paper was to protest against other 
Professors infringing on his monopoly of the subject. 


belonging to the course of Philosophy." And " for 
the better encouragement of said fixed teacher of 
Greek, no scholar bred at school in Scotland and 
not foreign bred" was to be admitted to learn 
Philosophy " unless he had learned Greek, at least 
for the ordinary year, under the said fixed Greek 
master." This order of the Commission, however, 
seems to have been disregarded, just as was another 
and less judicious order, which they often repeated, 
for the production of a stereotyped course of Philo- 
sophy for common use in the Universities. 

Scott's patent as Professor of Greek in the 
University of Edinburgh would have put him nearly 
in the position desired by the Commissioners of 
1699. But his admission as such was opposed by 
the Town Council, as having the sole power of 
appointing Professors, and also by the other three 
Regents, who thought themselves entitled to teach 
Greek as well as Philosophy, Out of this, perhaps 
by the manipulation of Carstares, arose conferences 
in which the Town Council, the Ministers, and the 
members of the College, took part, and which re- 
sulted in the Town Council's Act of 1 708. By this 
Act Scott retained the Professorship of Greek, while 
other changes were introduced, which may have 
merely seemed a satisfactory compromise to the 
parties concerned, but which in reality constituted 
vital improvements in the teaching system of the 


In their Act of i6th June 1708 the Town 

Council said that "taking to their consideration 


what may be the proper methods for advancing 
of learning in their own College of Edinburgh, they 
have agreed upon the following articles as a rule of 
teaching in the said College : Primo that all the 
parts of philosophy be taught in two years, as they 
are by the most famous Universities abroad ; 
Secundo that, as a consequence of this article, there 
be but two philosophy classes in the College, to be 
taught by two of the four present Regents ; Tertio 
that in the first of these classes the students be 
taught Logic and Metaphysic and in the last a 
compend of Ethics and Natural Philosophy." Three 
other articles were added in which the Town 
Council constituted a Professor of Pneumatics and 
Moral Philosophy, to be apparently the apex of the 
whole teaching establishment. He was to have a 
voluntary class in his own special subject, and to be 
allowed a larger salary than the rest because he 
would get no fees. They also constituted " a fixed 
Professor of Greek," whose class was to be below 
the two classes in Philosophy, but was not neces- 
sarily to be passed through by a Student wishing to 
join the Philosophy course at once. They offered 
the appointments thus created to the existing 
Regents, to be chosen by them in order of seniority; 
and the result was that Laurence Dundas became 
Professor of Humanity ; William Scott, Professor of 
Greek ; Colin Drummond, Professor of Logic and 
Metaphysics ; Robert Stewart, Professor of Natural 
Philosophy ; and William Law, Professor of Moral 


In this arrangement the handiwork of Carstares 
is traceable : he probably took advantage of the 
conferences to indoctrinate the Town Council and 
the Ministers with his views, and to get them to 
begin moulding the College after " the most famous 
Universities abroad," that is to say, after Utrecht 
and Leyden. This tinge was effectually given 
during the Principalship of Carstares, and a few 
years later we shall have evidence that the teaching 
of the University of Edinburgh, in almost all its 
departments, had become distinctively Dutch. But 
the important thing in 1708 was that the Arts 
Faculty was henceforth to consist, not of rotating 
Regents, but of specialised Professors. It is true 
that some vestiges of the old system lingered a while, 
for the senior Professor of Philosophy was to teach 
"a compend of Ethics and Natural Philosophy," 
but Stewart soon dropped the Ethics and Aristotel- 
ianism in general, and became a Natural Philosopher 
of the school of Newton. It was a mighty change, 
and the example of it was followed by the other 
Universities of Scotland : by Glasgow in 1727, by 
St Andrews in 1747, by Aberdeen in 1754. 

The curriculum for Arts laid down was as follows : 
(i.) The class of the Professor of Humanity 
(now restricted to Latin) remained at the bottom, 
but it was no longer infra-Academical ; it constituted 
the first year of the Arts course, and from 17 10 
onwards the Students belonging to it were matricu- 
lated, which the Pupils of the Regent of Humanity 
never had been* 


(2.) Next came the class of the Professor of 
Greek. This was called the " Bajan class," from 
old associations, though it was now properly the 
class for second year Students. But persons coming 
from other Universities, or who, on examination, 
showed the requisite proficiency, might pass over 
both the Humanity and Greek classes. A similar 
practice had long previously been allowed under the 
Regenting system. Those who on entrance were 
placed in the second, third, or fourth year class, 
were called Supervenientes^ and they were often 
very numerous. 

(3.) Then came the class of the Professor of 
Logic, which, as being next above the Bajans, was 
now called the "Semi" class. It was the third 
year s course for an ordinary Student, and the first 
of the two years to be devoted to Philosophy. 

(4.) Finally there was the Natural Philosophy, 
or " Magistrand " class, which conducted the Student 
to his degree. 

In addition to the four Professors, to whom the 
above different stages of the Arts curriculum were 
entrusted, there were also the Professors of Mathe- 
matics and of Moral Philosophy giving lectures, 
attendance upon which was voluntary. In fact, 
there seems to have been some feeling of reaction 
at this time against the Procrustean uniformity of 
the old system, and a good deal of Lehr-und-Lern 
Freiheit was introduced. One remarkable result of 
this was, that teaching and learning soon grew to 
be thought of more importance than graduation. 


Of old, when it was each Regent's part to conduct 
all his pupils through the various stages and get 
them laureated, there was a sort of pressure put 
upon every Student to graduate. There were great 
fluctuations in the number of those graduating, 
owing to special circumstances from time to time, 
but, on the whole, graduation was the rule. In 
1 704 as many as sixty-fi ve took the Master of Arts 
degree, and in 1705 the extraordinary number of 
one hundred and four. But after 1708 it was not 
the interest or concern of any Professor in the Arts 
Faculty (except the Professor of Natural Philosophy, 
who got fees for laureating his class) to promote 
graduation. The old ceremonial of public laureation 
in the presence of the leading personages of Edin- 
burgh (see above, p. 154) was abandoned, and the 
degree rapidly fell into disregard. This became 
most decisively apparent in the middle of the 
eighteenth century ; in 1 749 there were only three 
graduates, and after that date down to the very end 
of the century only one or at most two persons were 
admitted in each year to the Master of Arts degree, 
with the exception of the year 1778, when there was 
a batch of honorary degrees in Arts. We shall 
relate presently various efforts made, down to 1858, 
to reform and revive the Arts degree system, but 
it will be convenient beforehand to take a glimpse 
at the teaching given in the Arts Faculty of Edin- 
burgh under the new system ; which we are enabled 
to do owing to the programmes of the classes in the 
University having been published by the Professors 


themselves in the Scots Magazine for 174 1. In that 
year we find the Professor of Humanity advertising 
two ''colleges " or courses of lectures — the one his 
"usual college," from the ist October to the end of 
July; the other his "private college," from the ist 
November to the ist June. In the former or 
general class, which seems to have lasted ten months 
on end, a great deal of work was got through ; but 
it was of a kind belonging rather to a school than to 
a University. The old entrance examination in 
Latin, instituted by Rollock, had been abandoned, 
and the Professor apparently took nothing for 
granted. He proceeded to ground his class in 
Latin ; he began with Caesar, and then went on 
to more difficult authors. He spent "a part of 
each morning in going over the material part of 
Ruddiman's Grammar, and then Vossius's Compend 
of Rhetoric ; after which his students composed 
orations in Latin, and delivered them before him 
and the whole class. He likewise read Drummond s 
Compend of Ancient and Modern Geography ^ In 
the private class grammar was no longer taught, but 
parts of Terence, Cicero, Horace, Tacitus, Suetonius, 
and Pliny the younger, were read. 

Of Greek there were at this time two Professors : 
Colin Drummond, who had held the Chair of Greek 
for eleven years, had now retired from the perform- 
ance of its ordinary functions ; and under the 
honorary title of " Professor of Greek and Philo- 
sophy" he gave "lectures for the benefit of students 
in Physic and Anatomy on Hippocrates' Aphorisms 


and Rufus Ephesius, De appellationibus corporis 
hutnanu' He had thus become a useful appendage 
to the Faculty of Medicine. His junior colleague, 
Robert Law, who was now the real teacher of 
Greek in the University, did work properly belong- 
ing to one of the lower classes in a grammar school. 
He taught "Greek Grammar; the New Testament; 
a Delectus containing some fables of iEsop, some 
of Lucian's dialogues, two orations of Isocrates, and 
the Table of Cebes ; three or four books of Homer's 
Iliad; and Upton's Collection.'' "In another college 
for the more advanced " he read and explained 
critically two books of Homer, some Demosthenes, 
and two plays of Euripides. 

This record of the classical department in the 
University of Edinburgh in 1741 reflects a state of 
things which was general at the time in Scotland, 
which lasted on into the present century, and of 
which many vestiges still remain. It shows us 
industrious Professors doing the work of school- 
masters. And the causes of this were two ; free 
entrance to the University, and the deficiency of the 
grammar schools. Not only had the scheme of the 
Book 0/ Discipline for the creation of higher schools 
and for a four years' curriculum of Greek for 
schoolboys (see above, p. 65) never been carried 
out, but the existing Burgh Schools had actually 
been depressed by absurd regulations^ giving to the 

^ For instance, in 1672, the following Act was passed by the Privy 
Council : — " Forasmuch as it is necessary for the advancement of 
learning that all due encouragement be given to the Professors and 


Universities a monopoly of teaching Greek. And 
these regulations the Universities had with short- 
sighted selfishness clung to and upheld. It is true 
that the schoolmasters by degrees came to evade 
these laws; Colin Drummond, in his paper of 1731 
above quoted, indicates that half the Students in the 
"Semi" class (going straight to Philosophy, and 
skipping over the Latin and Greek classes) came 
with a smattering of Greek from the country schools, 
and Jupiter Carlyle, in his Autobiography ^ said that 
having "learnt Greek pretty well at school," he 
omitted this subject altogether from his University 
curriculum (1735). Still the grammar schools were 
poor, and there was no idea throughout Scotland in 
the last century of the greatness of Hellenic culture. 
The Universities could not overtake the deficiencies 
of the schools, or turn out a great classical scholar 
to be afterwards Professor, and so the level of 
classical learning was kept down throughout the 

Masters of Universities and Colleges, and that the practice of some 
persons in taking upon them without warrant or allowance of any in 
authority to draw together numbers of scholars and to teach them 
those languages and parts of Philosophy which are proper to be 
taught in Universities, is contrary to the Laws of this Kingdom, and 
tends accordingly to the prejudice of Universities and Colleges by 
rendering some of the Professors therein altogether useless : Therefore, 
we the Lords of the Privy Council do hereby prohibit and discharge all 
persons whatsoever, who are not publicly authorised or allowed, con- 
form to the Act of Parliament, to gather together any number of 
scholars and to teach them Philosophy or the Greek language, and 
grant warrant to direct letters at the instance of the Professors and 
Masters of Universities or Colleges of this Kingdom against all such 
persons as contravene this Act, charging them to desist and cease 
from so doing in time coming, with certification if they fail to give 
obedience, other letters shall be directed to charge them thereto 
simpliciier under the form of rebellion." 


country, and this was especially the case with regard 
to Greek.^ The remedy would have been to revert 
to the old plan of seeking as Professors, scholars 
who had been educated abroad ; this and the 
reorganising of the relations between the Univer- 
sities and the schools would have improved the 
education of Scotland. 

The eighteenth century is admitted to have been 
a very dead and stagnant time in the English Uni- 
versities, and especially at Oxford. The cause of 
this was that in Oxford the Colleges had swamped 
the University, and each College privately taught its 
own Students through the instrumentality of clerical 
Fellows only waiting for livings. Of this system 
general perfunctoriness and lassitude, not to mention 
"port wine and prejudice," were the natural results. 
Graduation went on, but it had been reduced to a 
nonentity : the University was ready to confer a 
degree upon any one whom any College might 
recommend.^ However, all this time the University 

^ Scotland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had a 
great reputation for its Latin Scholarship. Puffendorff says in his 
Introductio ad Historiam Europceam {i6^\ p. 201 ; *^ Est quoque 
Scotorum gens ingemorum prastaniissimorum ferax et maxime 
LatitUB lingua cognitione illustriumP And Morhofius De pura 
dicHone Latina (1725), p. 41, says : "/« Sesta gente plures fuere qui 
lingua Latina studiosiores fuere quam in Anglis^ (Both authors 
are quoted by M*Crie.) But it was one of the points of similarity 
between the Scotch and the French, that neither of the two nations ever 
took very kindly to Greek. Whether this was due to external causes, 
or was connected in some way with other national characteristics, it 
would be hard to say. But it seems a fact that while German and 
English scholars have inclined to Hellenism, French and Scottish 
scholars have till lately confined themselves to Latinity. 

> The following is Lord Eldon's account of his examination by one 
of the members of his own College for a degree in Arts : — " I was 


of Oxford, though merged into a congeries of Col- 
leges, had its genius loci, its beautiful buildings and 
gardens, and a classical atmosphere, fed from a 
number of highly-endowed grammar schools, which 
devoted their whole teaching to Latin and Greek. 
In all these respects it presented a great contrast to 
the small, poverty-stricken, ill-housed University of 
Edinburgh, which stood, " like a lodge in a garden 
of cucumbers," in a country well-nigh destitute of 
secondary schools. But, on the other hand, the 
University of Edinburgh had a great advantage in 
that it had renounced the collegiate and tutorial 
method of teaching, and had adopted the plan of 
teaching by Professors. In this new system lay all 
the possibilities of specialised learning and science. 
A Professor appointed to pursue for life a particular 
subject, and, with the whole University teaching of 
that subject placed in his hands, was in a very 
different position in point of authority, responsibility, 
and incentives to exertion from either a Regent or 
a College tutor. A man of any ability, placed in a 
Professorial Chair, would be sure to make something 
of it. It is true that in the departments of Latin 
and Greek this advantage was neutralised, because 
the Professors, owing to the low state of proficiency 
in their Pupils, were not free to start above the level 
of school teaching, and had to act the part of tutors 

examined in Hebrew and History. *What is the Hebrew for the 
place of a skull V I replied, * Golgotha.* * Who founded University 
College.* I replied that * King Alfred founded it.' * Very well, sir,' 
said the examiner, *you are competent for your degree.'" And accord- 
ingly, on the 20th February 1770, it was conferred upon him. 

CouN Maclavrin, Math . Pnov ]i»i>' . 

. i 


instead of that of professors. But in the other 
departments of the Arts Faculty this depressing 
influence was not felt, and in them it was shown 
that the University of Edinburgh had caught, more 
quickly and effectually than the English Universities, 
both the Baconian impulse and the Newtonian 

We see this from the rich programme of Mr. 
Colin M*Laurin, F.R.S., Professor of Mathematics, 
published in the Scots Magazine in 174 1. He gave 
'* every year three Colleges, and sometimes a fourth, 
upon such of the abstruse parts of the Science as 
were not explained in the former three." The first 
course contained : Demonstrations of the ground of 
Vulgar and Decimal Arithmetic ; Six books of 
Euclid ; Plane Trigonometry and use of tables of 
Logarithms, Sines, etc. ; Surveying, Fortification, 
and other practical parts ; the elements of Algebra ; 
and a lecture on Geography once a fortnight. 

The second course consisted of: Algebra; the 
Theory and Mensuration of Solids; Spherical Tri- 
gonometry, the doctrine of the Sphere, Dialling, 
and other practical parts ; Conic Sections, with the 
theory of Gunnery ; the elements of Astronomy and 

"He begins the third College" (says the Scots 
Magazine) " with Perspective ; then treats more 
fully of the Astronomy and Optics. Afterwards he 
prelects on Sir Isaac Newton's Principia^ and ex- 
plains the direct and inverse method of Fluxions. 
At a separate hour he begins a College of Experi- 


mental Philosophy, about the middle of December, 
which continues thrice every week till the beginning 
of April ; and at proper hours of the night describes 
the constellations, and shows the planets by tele- 
scopes of various kinds." All this busy teaching of 
important and interesting subjects was comprised in 
the time between the ist November and the ist 
May, so that the Professor left himself six months 
in the year for his own researches. 

In the old Regenting times in Edinburgh 
" Natural Philosophy" had meant the Physical Lec- 
tures of Aristotle and the Sphere of Sacrobosco. 
In 1 74 1 things were different; the following is a 
list of the text-books and subjects which Mr. Robert 
Stewart, Professor of Natural Philosophy, undertook 
to teach: — Dr. John KeilFs Iniroductto ad verant 
P hy steam ; Mechanics from several other authors; 
•* Hydrostatics and Pneumatics from a manuscript 
of the Professors own writing;" Dr. David Gregory's 
Optics ; Sir Isaac Newton s Of Colours ; the several 
parts of the Eye, with their uses, and the Phenomena 
of Vision ; the different kinds of Microscopes and 
Telescopes ; Dr. David Gregory's Astronomy ; some 
propositions of Newton's Principia; Astronomical 
Observations, both ancient and modern ; exhibitions 
of experiments in Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneu- 
matics, and Optics. All which was clear of Mediae- 
valism and the Ptolemaic system, and was essentially 
modern and progressive. 

In the phraseology of those days, what we call 
the " Professor of Logic and Metaphysics " was 


Styled the '* Professor of Rational and Instrumental^ 
Philosophy." The course given by this Professor 
(Mr. John Stevenson) in 1741 lasted nearly eight 
months, and comprised the following text-books and 
subjects : — Heineccii Elementa Philosophite ration- 
alts ; an abridgment of Locke's Essay on the Human 
Understanding ; "-Metaphysics, in lectures upon De 
Vries' Ontologia^ the grounds of criticism in lectures 
upon Longinus On Sublimity^ and the Poetic of 
Aristotle. And he gave a separate "college" on 
the History of Philosophy, with Heineccii Historia 
Philosophica as a text- book. The Students had to 
defend and impugn Theses, as an exercise in the art 
of reasoning. This course of teaching seems to 
have been based partly on Dutch systems of Philo- 
sophy, partly upon Locke. Though Rhetoric was 
not specified in the title of Stevenson's Chair, it 
belonged to it ; and the most valuable part of 
his teaching consisted in his lectures on the 
grounds of criticism, of which a further account will 
be given. 

Last in the Arts Faculty came the Professor of 
Moral Philosophy, or as he then called himself, the 
" Professor of Pneumatical and Ethical Philosophy." 
We have had previously two mentions of " Pneu- 
matics" as a branch of Mechanics, — the doctrine of 
the air ; but now we have the term used, as in the 
language of the Schoolmen, to denote the doctrine 

* " Instrumental," of course, referred to the term Organum^ given 
to the logical treatises of Aristotle, — Logic being regarded as the 
instrument of thought and science. 

VOL. I. T 


of spiritual substances, such as God, the Angels, and 
the souls of men. The first branch, then, of the 
teaching of this Professor (Dr. John Pringle) was 
a metaphysical, and perhaps mystical, system of 
Natural Theology, for which he mentions no text- 
books. His second branch was Moral and Political 
Philosophy, deduced chiefly from Cicero, Marcus 
Antoninus, Puffendorff, and Lord Bacon, and " illus- 
trated with an account of the rise and fall of the 
ancient governments of Greece arid Rome, and a 
view of that form of government which took its rise 
from the irruptions of the Northern nations." The 
course lasted for six months, and the Students had 
to write and deliver discourses upon points of 
'* Pneumatical " or Moral Philosophy. It is striking 
that all through these programmes there is no 
mention of Aristotle. The reaction against the old 
system of Regent ing had been complete. The Arts 
Faculty of the University of Edinburgh (with the 
exception of its classical department) had been re- 
modelled after the example of Ley den and Utrecht. 
And in supplement to the Dutch influence, it 
borrowed inspirations from Bacon, Newton, and 
Locke. Its teaching during the latter half of the 
eighteenth century was decidedly fresher than that 
of Oxford. 

We have not only the programmes of these old 
Professors in the Arts Faculty for our information, 
but it so happens that we possess a lively comment- 
ary on their personal performances in the shape of 
the reminiscences of Dr. Alexander Carlyle, who 


was a Student in Arts and Divinity at the Univer- 
sity from November 1735 to April 1743, and who 
records without reserve his impression of the vari- 
ous Professors. He approved of Ker (Professor 
of Latin) as "very much master of his subject." 
M'Laurin he found "the clearest and most agreeable 
lecturer in Mathematics " that he had ever heard. 
Stewart, Professor of Natural Philosophy, was 
'* worn out with age and had never excelled." Colin 
Drummond, who was still Professor of Greek in *-■ 
1735-36, was "an old sickly man who could seldom 
attend, and used substitutes," so that Carlyle, who 
'* had learnt Greek pretty well at school," omitted 
this subject. From Stevenson's class in Logic and 
Rhetoric Carlyle thought that he got more benefit 
than from any of the other classes ; and this he 
thought due to the judiciousness of the Professor, 
and also to " the effect which criticism and rational 
Logic have upon the opening mind." He did not 
think much of Pringle's course in Moral Philosophy, 
except for the elegant Latin address which he gave 
once a week. Carlyle' s remarks point to one dis- 
advantage under which the University, down to 
1858, continued to suffer; namely, the want of a 
system of pensions which would have enabled 
superannuated Professors to retire from duties for 
which they were no longer competent. 

The Arts Faculty of the University had been 
constituted by the creation of five Professorships in 
1 708 ; but their number was increased in 1 760 by 
the addition of a Chair of Rhetoric and Belles Let Ires, 


This came to pass in the same way in which several 
other Chairs in other Faculties were established ; 
namely, that when some new subject had been 
successfully taught in the City the Town Council 
recognised it and dubbed the teacher of it "Pro- 
fessor," without giving him any salary, and leaving 
him to make the best of his position. In 1 748 Lord 
Karnes had induced Adam Smith to give a set of 
lectures in Edinburgh on Taste and Composition. 
These lectures gained the Chair of Logic at 
Glasgow for Adam Smith in 175 1. A successor 
to him, as lecturer in Edinburgh, appeared in the 
person of Mr. Watson, afterwards the historian of 
Philip n. In 1758 he was promoted to the Chair 
of Logic at St. Andrews. And on the nth 
December 1759 Dr. Hugh Blair, Minister of St. 
Giles, with the consent of the Senatus and Town 
Council, began to read lectures on Rhetoric and 
Belles Lettres within the walls of the College. 
Next year the patrons appointed him Professor, 
but without salary. His courses, however, were so 
well attended, and excited so much interest, that an 
application was made to the Crown to endow and 
assume the patronage of the Chair. This was done, 
and in 1762 George III. granted a commission to 
Dr. Hugh Blair as Regius Professor of Rhetoric, 
with a salary of ;^7o per annum out of Bishops 
Teinds, a convenient remnant of the old Episcopal 
Church of Scotland, which was used for the endow- 
ment of several Professorships. The introduction 
of this new Chair made a change in the teaching of 


the Arts Faculty, for since 1 708 Rhetoric had been 
attached to the Chair of Logic, but after 1760 it 
became the province of a separate Professor, and 
thus came to embrace a systematic course of lectures 
upon English literature. And the Arts curriculum 
thus made up remained unaltered, except so far as 
regards the proclivities and the calibre of the suc- 
cessive Professors, until very recent times. 

But when we speak of a curriculum it must be 
remembered that as soon as graduation fell into 
disregard no such thing as a curriculum could really 
continue to exist. The main subjects of Arts teach- 
ing were there, but each Student attended such 
classes as he or his friends might think advisable. 
The Senatus Academicus, however, from time to 
time, made valiant, though abortive, attempts to 
revive an interest in graduation. In November 
1 738, "It being represented by the Principal (Wishart 
secundus) that some Students of Philosophy, who 
had been conversing with him and some of the 
Professors, were willing to print and defend Theses 
publicly in order to their receiving the degree of 
M.A., viz., Hugh Blair, ^ William Mackenzie, John 
Wotherspoon, William Cleghorn, and Nathaniel 
Mitchell, — this University meeting unanimously 
agreed and allowed the same, as being a probable 
mean of retrieving the honours of that Degree ; and 
for the encouragement of any who shall be at the 
charges of this public trial [i.e. printing their Theses) 

* Afterwards Professor of Rhetoric. Wotherspoon became famous 
as a writer and preacher at Paisley and in America. 


the Masters are resolved that they shall be eased of 
the Promoter's fees and other College dues." And 
on the 23d February 1739 the five candidates 
mentioned in the above Minute having printed 
Theses and publicly defended the same — each of 
the four candidates impugning the fifth — " in a public 
and frequent meeting" in the Common Hall, were 
all graduated by the Principal. 

It will be observed that this qualification for a 
degree was an entirely novel one. In lieu of pass- 
ing an examination each candidate was to print and 
defend a Thesis. This idea seems to have been 
borrowed from the Faculty of Medicine, for the old 
custom in the Arts Faculty had been that the Regent 
should promulgate a Thesis which each of his pupils 
was bound to defend. But now each candidate for 
a degree in Arts was invited to draw up his own 
Thesis and defend it. However, this exercise 
seems to have been a voluntary one in 1738, 
obtained by private arrangement with some clever 
Students. The Senatus at the same time drew up 
a new set of rules for graduation in Arts, in which 
they improved on the system introduced by the 
Town Council in 1 708. They enacted that " none 
shall be admitted to the degree of Master of Arts 
unless they have studied three years in Philosophy, 
either here or in some other University, during 
which time they shall be obliged to have attended 
on the Mathematics and Moral Philosophy as well 
as the Semi and Magistrand class (see above, p. 
264) ; and unless they undergo a public examina- 


tion upon their Greek and all parts of Philosophy, to 
be conducted in the Common Hall by at least two 
Masters of the Faculty of Arts and in the presence 
of two or three more of the Professors." By this 
rule attendance on the classes of Mathematics and 
Moral Philosophy was to be made compulsory. The 
conditions thus laid down for a degree were good 
enough; but how if no one cared to obtain the 
degree ? 

In order to secure some candidates the Senatus 
tried to make Arts graduation compulsory for those 
who were going to enter the Ministry, They 
resolved " that the Professor of Divinity be enjoined 
that he shall receive no new Students of Divinity, 
nor consider them as scholars under his care, who 
cannot produce a certificate for having got the 
degree in Arts ; and that such as are already listed 
students in Divinity shall have the degree gratis ; 
and that the Rev. Professor of Divinity should 
advise such students to take the degree for a good 
example in this matter." This was a good intention, 
and had the rule issued from the General Assembly 
of the Church of Scotland it would doubtless have 
been efficacious. Coming merely from the Senatus 
it appears to have had no permanent effect.^ Indeed 

* Some of the Divinity Students of the time seem to have availed 
themselves of the offer of Senatus to give them degrees, ex gratia^ 
without examination. Among these was probably John Home, the 
author of Douglas^ who graduated in 1742. Certainly "Jupiter** 
Carlyle, who graduated in 1 743, must have got his degree in this way. 
He had enrolled himself as a Divinity Student in 1738-39, and therefore 
was among the number of those to whom the degree was offered. 
See his Autobiography^ p. 52. He never speaks of having been 
examined in the University. 


it may be doubted whether the Senatus Academicus 
could legally impose conditions on persons wishing 
to prepare for the Ministry. Unless the General 
Assembly ratified those conditions they would cer- 
tainly have no validity. It would probably have 
been better for the Church of Scotland if all entering 
the Ministry during the eighteenth century had been 
obliged to graduate in Arts ; but perhaps the General 
Assembly thought that to enact this would be making 
the Universities too important. They probably 
remembered the words of warning addressed to 
their predecessors by John Knox on his death-bed : 
"Above all things preserve the Kirk from the 
bondage of the Universities. Persuade them to 
rule themselves peaceably, and order the schools 
in Christ ; but never subject the pulpit to their 
judgment, neither yet exempt them from your juris- 

Arts graduation, then, being unpatronised by the 
Church, rapidly fell to zero. But in 1778 there 
appears to have been a repetition of what occurred 
in 1 738, for the Professors found four of the Students 
willing to prepare and defend Theses.* The Senatus 
marked the occasion by conferring honorary M.A. 
degrees on three of their own body who had not 

^ Letter of John Knox to the General Assembly at Perth, on 5th 
August 1572 — the last he wrote. See Laing's Knox, vi. p. 619. 

* These were William Greenfield (afterwards Professor of Rhetoric), 
John Erskine, Alexander Mitchell, and Joseph Ewart The subjects 
of their Theses are recorded :— i. De meihodis Exhaustionum atque 
Rationum primarum et ultimarum, 2. De Sermonis natura et indole, 
3. De Inductione, 4. De Causis Eloquentia, Each of these is styled 
^^ Dtssertatio Inauguralis?^ 


previously graduated : Dalzel, Professor of Greek ; 
Dugald Stewart, then Professor of Mathematics ; 
and Bruce, Professor of Logic. They also drew 
up afresh elaborate regulations for a private and also 
a public examination of candidates for degrees. In 
the latter a Thesis or Dissertation on some point 
of literature or science was to be recited by the 
Student, with annexa or propositions attached to it, 
on which he was to be questioned. All which 
became absolutely a dead letter. 

From this time onwards, as all desire for the 
M.A. degree seemed to have expired, attendance on 
the Arts classes became purely voluntary, except so 
far as the General Assembly should choose to inter- 
fere by regulating the education of aspirants to the 
Ministry. The General Assembly have never to 
the present day made graduation in Arts necessary 
for ordination ; but they did require attendance on 
the Arts classes. In 1776 it was enacted that 
" none be admitted to trials in order to be licensed 
but such as have produced to the Professor of 
Divinity, at the time of being enrolled " (as Divinity 
Students) " either a diploma of Master of Arts or a 
certificate bearing that they have gone through a full 
course of philosophy at the College," the classes of 
" which the student must attend in such order as is 
prescribed" in his own University. The Church then 
left something to be decided by the Universities. 
And accordingly the question arose, and gave matter 
for much inter- University discussion, as to what 
should be " the Course of Philosophy " prescribed to 


persons wishing to become Divinity Students. The 
University of Glasgow in 1803 tried to get it laid 
down that the course was and always had been one 
of three sessions. But the other Universities carried 
against them the resolution that no one should be 
admitted to the M.A. degree who had not attended 
in separate sessions — (i) Greek; (2) Logic; (3) 
Moral Philosophy ; (4) Natural Philosophy ; and 
that this course should be required from Students 
previous to their enrolment in the Divinity Hall. 
It seems curious that the Universities of Scotland 
should have agreed upon a course which made 
Natural Philosophy compulsory without making any 
provision for the study of Mathematics, so necessary 
as a basis for Natural Philosophy. But in 1809-10 
the Senatus of the University of Edinburgh, after 
much consideration and the report of a Committee, 
resolved to make attendance on the Mathematical 
class necessary for future Students of Divinity. 
And so matters rested with the Arts Faculty, the 
authority of the Church over a section of the Students 
being a certain assistance towards filling their classes. 
In 181 2 the Senatus appointed a Committee to draw 
up new statutes for degrees in Arts, "the former 
ones having so conspicuously failed." But no result 
came of this, and graduation in Arts had to wait 
for the Royal Commission of 1826 and the Executive 
Commission of 1858 for its revival. 

II. The Arts Faculty of the University of Edin- 
burgh, in contradistinction to the Regents or Tutors 
of the College, was completely founded, as we have 


seen, in 1 708, The commencement of a Faculty of 
Laws had been made a year previously by the 
creation of a Regius Professorship of Public Law 
in 1707 (above, p. 232), and the establishment of 
that Faculty was completed during the first quarter 
of the eighteenth century. It may appear surprising 
that the Metropolis of Scotland, and the seat of the 
highest Law Courts, should have been left so long 
without any school for Legal Science, so that those 
wishing to qualify themselves as lawyers had still to 
go to Utrecht, Leyden, Groningen, or Halle, as in 
former times Scotchmen had betaken themselves for 
the same purpose to Paris and Orleans. Long 
previously, in the sixteenth century, there had been 
two attempts made, both without effect, to establish 
the teaching of Law in Edinburgh. The first was 
Bishop Reid's bequest (1558) for the creation of a 
College of Arts and Law, which came to nothing. 
The second was the wise and liberal movement of 
the College of Justice (1590) for the creation of a 
Professorship of Laws, which, by causes now inscrut- 
able, perhaps by the prejudiced opposition of James 
VL (above, p. 188), was frustrated. By the end of 
the seventeenth century the want of home teaching 
in the Civil Law and Scots Law was sufficiently felt 
to induce some of the Advocates to meet the demand 
by giving private lectures on these subjects. In 
1698 an Act of the Scottish Parliament appointed 
Alexander Cunningham " Professor of the Civil Law 
in Scotland." But this was a very curious trans- 
action, the particulars of which shall be recounted in 


an Appendix.^ Suffice it here to say that Cunning- 
ham never taught Civil Law, and was not intended 
to do so; his Professorship was a mere honorary 
title, and he had no connection whatever with the 
University. It is said that John Spottiswoode (great- 
grandson of Archbishop Spottiswoode; born 1667; 
educated at the College of Edinburgh ; and after- 
wards a Law Student at Leyden ; admitted Advocate 
1696; and Keeper of the Advocates' Library from 
1 703 till 1 728) " had the honour of being the first 
who opened schools, in his own house indeed, for 
teaching professedly the Roman and the Scottish 
Laws, which he continued to teach at Edinburgh, 
though not in the University, for six -and -twenty 
years. ^ 

Spottiswoode's example was followed by others ; 
one of these was James Craig, who had been for 
some years lecturing upon Civil Law, when, in 1710, 
the Town Council determined to take him up into 
the University. They elected and appointed him 
Professor of Civil Law, and assigned him a class- 
room. " But in regard there is no foundation of 
salary to the said Professorship," the Council declared 
that "he is not to expect any salary as Professor 
aforesaid. And the said Mr. James Craig compearing 
accepted his office in the terms above mentioned, 
and gave his oath de fideli administratione'' 

The Chair of Civil Law was thus started by the 
Town Council, as the first Chairs of Medicine had 

1 See Appendix I. Alexander Cunningham. 
3 Chalmers' Life of Thomas Ruddiman (1795), p. 35. 

I7i6.] THE ALE DUTY. 285 

been, without any salary attached. It seems, how- 
ever, to have been a working Chair from the com- 
mencement^ Craig held it from 1710 till 1732, and 
it was only during the first seven years of that time 
that he remained without a salary. In 1 716 an Act 
of Parliament (3d George I. cap. 5) " for continuing 
the Duty of two pennies Scots, or one sixth of a 
penny sterling, on every pint of ale and beer that 
' shall be vended and sold within the City of Edin- 
burgh, for the benefit of the said City," specified 
among the objects to which the Duty was to be 
applied, the " settling a salary upon the Professor of 
Law in the University of Edinburgh, and his suc- 
cessors in office, not exceeding ;^ioo per annum," to 
commence from the nth November 171 7. And 
the Act of 1722 (9th George I. cap. 14), for further 
renewing this Duty, renewed also the assignment of 
;^ 1 00 for the salary of the " Professor of Civil Law," 
as he was now more accurately designated. In 
addition it provided for the payment of ;^ 100 yearly 
to a " Professor of Universal Civil History and 
Greek and Roman Antiquities, in the said Uni- 
versity ;" and of ;^ 1 00 yearly to a "Professor of 
Scots Law." And the same Act prescribed the mode 
in which future vacancies in these three Chairs of 
Civil Law, Scots Law, and Universal History were 
to be filled up, namely, the Faculty of Advocates 
were in each case to nominate and present to the 

^ Craig had two courses, one of Institutes^ another of Pandects; 
for the latter he used as a text-book Van Eck's Principia, his own 
interleaved copy of which is in the library at Riccarton. 


Town Council a leet of two persons, from whom the 
Council were to be bound to choose one and admit 
him to the vacant Professorship. 

The Chair of Universal History, which in 1722 
was placed on a permanent footing by Act of Parlia- 
ment, had been established with a temporary endow- 
ment of ;^5o a year by the Town Council in 1719. 
The Order which they passed on the subject is not 
without interest. They say : " Considering the 
great advantages that arise to the nation from the 
encouragement of learning by the establishment 
of such professions (professorships) in our College, 
as enable youth to study with equal advantages at 
home as they do abroad, and considering the advan- 
tages that arise to this City in particular from the 
reputation that the Professors of the liberal Arts and 
Sciences have justly acquired to themselves in the 
said College ; and that a profession of Universal 
History is extremely necessary to complete the 
same, this profession being very much esteemed 
and the most attended of any one profession at all 
the Universities abroad, and yet nowhere set up in 
any of our Colleges in Scotland," etc. — " they agree 
that a Professor of Universal History be established 
in the College of this City." And they then pro- 
ceeded to nominate and elect Mr. Charles Mackie 
to the Professorship thus created. 

The terms of this resolution, with its comparison 
of the Universities of Scotland, into none of which 
had the teaching of History been introduced, with 
"the Universities abroad," where History is*' very 


much esteemed," and the classes in it "the most 
attended " — seem to reflect the mind of Carstares. 
It is true that he had died more than three years 
previously to this act of the Town Council. But 
the influence which he had exercised lived after him. 
And the fact that Charles Mackie, the first Professor 
of History, was the nephew of Carstares, suggests 
the belief that the arrangement made in 1 7 1 9 was 
only the carrying out of measures which Carstares 
had quietly urged upon the Town Council. In all 
probability Carstares was greatly instrumental in 
founding both the Arts Faculty and the Faculty of 
Laws, and we may conjecture that he wished to 
bring in the study of Universal History as one of 
" the liberal Arts and Sciences." This last object 
has been frustrated owing to a certain legal com- 
plexion having been given to the Chair of History 
from the commencement. Mackie, being an Advo- 
cate, devoted part of his course to lecturing upon 
the law procedure of the Ancients, and got himself 
styled in the Act of 1722 ** Professor of Universal 
Civil History and Greek and Roman Antiquities ^ 
At the same time the patronage of the Chair was 
virtually placed in the hands of the Faculty of 
Advocates, which meant that the chair should always 
be filled by an Edinburgh Advocate. The Chair 
of History has never taken its proper place as a 
new and important school in the Faculty of Arts. 
It has always tended to serve as an appendage to 
the Faculty of Laws. And it will be seen hereafter 
that this tendency was confirmed by the Commission 


of 1858, which assigned to it Constitutional Law 
and History as its distinctive province. 

There was yet another Chair in the Faculty of 
Laws, which at the request of the Town Council 
had been provided with a salary of ;^ 100 a year by 
the Act of 1 722. This was the Chair of Scots Law, 
which the Town Council founded on the 28th 
November 1722 much in the same way as they had 
founded the Chair of Civil Law, that is to say, by 
taking up into the University an individual who 
had been already lecturing on the subject outside. 
Alexander Bayne, Advocate, " represented how 
much it would be for the interest of the Nation and 
of this City to have a Professor of the Law of 
Scotland placed in the University of this City, not 
only for teaching the Scots Law, but also for qualify- 
ing of Writers for His Majesty's Signet." Where- 
on the Council, " being fully apprised of the fitness 
and qualifications of Mr. Alexander Bayne of Rives, 
Advocate, to discharge such a province, elect him 
to be Professor of the Law of Scotland in the 
University^ of this City." 

During the remainder of the eighteenth century 
the Laws Faculty consisted of three Professors (of 
Public, Civil, and Municipal Laws), and besides them 
there was the Professor of History, part of whose 
teaching was for the benefit of future lawyers. If 
we look at the programmes of 1741, as preserved in 
the Scots Magazine, we observe that the then incum- 
bents of those chairs (who had each in early life 

* They here echo the terms used in Bayne's petition. 


Studied Jurisprudence at Leyden^) leant very much 
to Dutch authorities. Thus George Abercromby, 
" Professor of the Law of Nature and Nations " (as 
he called himself), lectured upon Grotius' Dejure belli 
et pacts ; and Thomas Dundas, Professor of Civil 
Law, took Van Muyden's Compend as his text-book 
in lecturing upon the Institutes of Justinian, and 
Voet's Compend in lecturing on the Pandects. John 
Erskine, "Professor of the Scots or Municipal Law," 
not being able to draw from a foreign source, took 
as his text-book Sir George Mackenzie's Institutions. 
Charles Mackie, who simply styles himself " Pro- 
fessor of History," taking as his text-book Tursellini 
Epitome Historiarum, seems to have given a full and 
valuable course upon Universal History, " adducing 
the authority of the best historians ;" " referring to 
remarkable passages in the Grand Corps Diploma- 
tique, Rymer's Fosdera, and other vouchers ; " and 
"taking occasion to detect many vulgar errors in 
History." He also gave "a separate college on the 
Roman Antiquities,*' especially in reference to the 
Law Procedure of the Romans. Mackie was the 
only one among the Professors of 1741 who notified 
that all his lectures would be delivered in Latin, 
though some of the others^ followed this practice, 

^ See the Album Studiosorum Academia Lugduno Batava, 1575- 
1875, ^"^ which their several names appear. 

* Dr. Somerville, who attended the University 1756-59 complained 
of Dr. Stevenson's Logic lectures being delivered in Latin and difficult to 
follow. He also mentions that the lectures in Church History "were 
composed in Latin ; but after the first the Professor began every pre- 
lection by recapitulating the preceding one in English." — My own IJfe 
and TitneSy p. 20. 

VOL. I. U 


which soon fell into disuse. He decidedly belonged 
to both Faculties, Arts and Laws, but, as has been 
already observed, his Chair afterwards got a narrower 
and more exclusively legal province. There was 
no graduation in Laws, except what was honorary, 
in the eighteenth century, but there was regular 
teaching in Civil and Municipal Law ; the teaching 
of Public Law was from the first intermittent, and, 
as we shall see hereafter, the Chair ultimately 
was treated as a sinecure, and from 1831 it was left 
vacant until 1862, when it was revived by the Com- 
mission appointed under the Act of 1858. 

At the close of the last century two proposals 
were made for adding Chairs to the Faculty of 
Laws, and it may at first sight seem strange that 
both these proposals met with opposition from the 
Senatus Academicus. But such was then and has 
often been the operation of the University system 
in Scotland, where, each Chair being slenderly 
endowed in the matter of fixed stipend, each Pro- 
fessor is chiefly dependent on the fees of his Students, 
and jealously guards against any encroachment upon 
the monopoly which he enjoys of teaching his 
subject. This feeling, as we shall see in numerous 
instances, gives rise to an extreme conservatism, 
which resists even the most desirable changes. 

On the 1 2th December 1796, it having been 
reported to the Senatus Academicus of the Univer- 
sity of Edinburgh that the Society of Writers to 
the Signet had created among themselves a Lecture- 
ship on Conveyancing, and contemplated applying 


to the Crown to erect that Lectureship into a Pro- 
fessorship in the University, the Senatus ." unani- 
mously disapproved of the proposal, as neither 
conducive to the improvement of the course of Law 
Studies, nor consistent with due regard to the rights 
and interests of the established Professor of Scots 

In June 1798 Dr. Duncan, Professor of the 
Institutes of Medicine, memorialised the Town 
Council, stating that he had been in the habit of 
giving one lecture per week on Medical Juris- 
prudence, and recommending them to found a 
Professorship of the subject. This move, which in 
itself was a very proper one, was made by Dr. 
Duncan in the interest of his son, who afterwards 
became a distinguished Professor. But when the 
Senatus were invited to give their opinion on the 
proposal, they at once condemned it on the ground 
tliat "the multiplying of Professorships, especially 
on new subjects of education, does not promise to 
advance the prosperity or dignity of the University ;" 
and that the most essential parts of Medical Juris- 
prudence might be taught by existing Professors. 

The Senatus by this course of action were able 
to delay, but not ultimately to prevent, the additions 
to the University staff which had been proposed. 
The Town Council and the Crown Officers took a 
more enlightened view of the question ; and on the 
I St May 1807 a Commission came down from 
George III. creating "a Professorship of Medical 
Jurisprudence and Medical Police," "as taught in 


every University of reputation on the Continent of 
Europe/' with an endowment of ;^ 100 a year out 
of Bishops' Rents ; and appointing Dr. Andrew 
Duncan, junior, to be the first Professor. On con- 
dition, however, that he was not to interfere with 
any of the courses of lectures now delivered in the 
said University. Principal Baird, not satisfied with 
this proviso, read a paper reserving to the Senatus 
or any Professor the right of protesting in future 
against the establishment of a Regius Professorship 
of Medical Jurisprudence. This, of course, was 
brutum fulmen^ and a Chair valuable to Students 
both of Law and of Medicine was added to the 

The second proposed Chair was longer delayed, 
and it was not till 1825 that the Society of Writers 
to the Signet, having petitioned the Town Council 
to turn their Lectureship on Conveyancing into a 
Professorship, and having undertaken to provide a 
perpetual salary of at least one hundred guineas, 
the Town Council acceded to these terms. Setting 
aside the objections of the Senatus, they gave a 
Commission, as Professor, to Macvey Napier, who 
had acted as Lecturer on Conveyancing since 18 16. 
It was arranged that in future the patrons of the 
Chair were to be two delegates from the Town 
Council, two from the Writers to the Signet, and 
the Deputy Keeper of the Signet. 

in. The history of the Medical School of the 
University of Edinburgh cannot be separated from 
the history of extra- Academical Medicine as prac- 


tised and taught in the City. In fact, the course of 
events was this : a Medical School having been 
begun to be formed outside the University, some 
of the members of that School were, first in an 
honorary way and afterwards more substantively, 
incorporated into the University as Professors. 
And so the Medical Faculty of the University had 
its quasi - fortuitous beginning, from which it grew 
to be an independent and famous School of Medi- 
cine. But one of its greatest advantages has been, 
that it has continued to be surrounded by extra- 
mural rivals, who have kept its Professors up to the 
mark, and sometimes eclipsed them, and who have 
always been in training to fill up the ranks of the 
University whenever vacancies occurred. 

It has been observed that though the practice of 
dissection was legalised in Edinburgh as early as 
1505,^ no progress in Anatomical or Medical Science 
for nearly two centuries after that period was made 
in Scotland, owing to the poverty and distracted 
state of the country; while in Italy, Belgium, 
Holland, and France, Anatomists of great note were 
flourishing, and in England Harvey had discovered 
the circulation of the blood. 

But, as we have seen above (pp. 2 1 7-226), towards 
the close of the seventeenth century certain accom- 

1 The Charter of the Surgeons and Barbers of Edinburgh, dated 
1505, granted them the privilege of having "once in the year a con- 
demned man after he be dead to make anatomy of." See Historical 
Sketch of the Edinburgh Anatomical School t by John Struthers, M.D., 
Professor of Anatomy in the University of Aberdeen, p. 18, from 
which the above remark is quoted. 


plished physicians, who had been educated abroad, 
resolved to give a new start to Medicine in Edin- 
burgh. Hence came the establishment of the Physic 
Garden, and of the College of Physicians ; and then 
the Town Council took in the Keeper of the Physic 
Garden to be Professor of Botany in their College, 
and three chief members of the College of Physicians 
to be Professors of Medicine. These last appoint- 
ments were almost entirely honorary; class-rooms 
were provided for the so-called Professors, but teach- 
ing was left optional, and certainly none of them 
taught systematically. This, however, was the 
tentative outset — a sort of false dawn — of the Uni- 
versity Medical School. 

The first impulse having come from the newly- 
created College of Physicians, the second came from 
the College of Surgeons, who, having got a fresh 
royal charter in 1694, and also a grant from the 
Town Council of unowned dead bodies, opened 
an Anatomical theatre in 1697. But at first they 
had no special Anatomist ; whenever a body was to 
be dissected they divided it into ten parts, which 
were dissected and lectured upon during ten^ succes- 
sive days by different members of their own body 
appointed for the purpose. In 1705, however, they 
adopted a new system by appointing one of their 
number, Mr. Robert Elliot, to the sole and per- 

* The Town Council had laid down curious rules for the treatment 
of subjects. "All the gross intestines" were to be buried within 
forty-eight hours, and the rest of the body within ten days. And the 
dissection was to be during the winter season only, from one equinox 
to the other. 


manent charge of teaching Anatomy.^ Elliot, on 
his appointment, petitioned the Town Council for 
some pecuniary encouragement for the task which 
he had undertaken, stating that he ** was of intention 
to make a public profession and teaching of anatomy 
for instruction of youth, to serve her Majesty's lieges 
both at home and abroad, in her armies and fleets, 
which he hoped, by the blessing of God, would be 
a mean of saving much money to the nation, ex- 
pended in teaching anatomy in foreign places, 
besides the preventing of many dangers and incon- 
veniences to which youth were exposed in their 
travels to other countries." All which being ap- 
proved by the Council, they granted the petitioner 
an allowance of ;^i5 sterling per annum, "as an 
encouragement to go on in the said profession," but 
" with the express provision and condition that the 
petitioner take exact notice and inspection of the 
order and condition of the rarities of the College ; 
and that an exact inventory be made of the same 
and given in to the Council." In these informal 
terms Elliot became incorporated into the Town's 
College as Professor of Anatomy,* with a salary of 

1 It appears that this change was decided on in consequence of a 
rival teacher of anatomy, not being a member of the College of 
Surgeons, appearing in the town, and offering to give public demon- 
strations gratis, if allowed the use of the theatre and dead bodies. 
See Gairdner*s History of the College of Surgeons^ p. 32. 

* The terms of the Council's minute (29th August 1705) would 
seem to imply that Elliot was only appointed Keeper of the Museum 
in the College. In subsequent minutes, however, he was referred to 
as " Professor of Anatomy," but without specification as to whether he 
was a Professor in the College. At last, in 1720, his successors, 
Drummond and M'Gill, are spoken of in the City Records as " con- 
joint Professors of Anatomy in this City and College." 


;^I5, all his teaching being done in the theatre of 
the Surgeons. 

The Surgeons themselves appear never to have 
designated Elliot as '* Professor." He was their 
** public dissector of anatomy." The Town Council, 
by the charter of James VI., had the sole right of 
creating Professorships within the City ; they made 
Elliot a Professor, and in 1 708 they appointed Adam 
Drummond, Surgeon Apothecary, to be conjoint 
Professor with him ; and subsequently to this ap- 
pointment Drummond was admitted by the College 
of Surgeons to the use of their theatre. On the 
death of Elliot, in 1716, John M'Gill, Deacon of 
the Surgeons^ (answering to the President of the 
College of Surgeons at the present day), was con- 
joined with Drummond, and they were styled by 
the Town Council in 1720 ** conjunct Professors of 
Anatomy in this City and College." Thus, as in 
the case of Medicine and of Law, so in the case of 
Anatomy, successful practice or teaching had grown 
up outside the College, and then the practitioners 
or teachers were dignified by the Town Council 
with the title of Professors, and were given a more 
or less close connection with the College or Uni- 

In the meantime, in a similar way, the impulse 
coming from without, a Professorship of Chemistry 
had been created in the University of Edinburgh. 
This occurred in December 171 3; it has been 

^ The Deacon of the Surgeons was at this time, and indeed till 
1833, a member, ex officio^ of the Town Council. 


observed that in the course of the same year a Chair 
of Chemistry had been established at Cambridge, 
and possibly this circumstance may have been 
present to the mind of Dr. James Craufurd, who 
had been Boerhaave's pupil at Leyden, and who 
appears to have made proposals to the patrons of 
the College that he should be authorised to teach 
Chemistry in Edinburgh. These advances were 
graciously received by the Town Council, who, 
using the same preamble as they had employed in 
creating the first Medical Professorships in 1685 (that 
the College of this City had from its origin been 
erected into a University, etc.), and adding that it 
was expedient to provide for Scotsmen the means of 
learning Physic and Chemistry at home, proceeded 
to " elect, nominate, and choose T)r. James Craufurd 
to be Professor of Physic and Chemistry in the said 
University, and appoint convenient rooms to be 
appropriated to him." They added, as they had 
done when they consented to make James Craig 
Professor of Civil Law, that Dr. Craufurd was " not 
to expect any salary as Professor." These terms 
were accepted ; and in this permissive way the 
Chair, afterwards made illustrious by the name of 
Black, came into existence. Craufurd does not 
appear to have given regular annual courses of 
Chemistry. It is recorded of him that he gave such 
courses "sometimes."^ Perhaps he did not find 
adequate encouragement from the attendance of 
Students ; and it must be remembered that he was 

^ Bower's History y ii. 126 and 17a 


Professor of " Physic " also, and may have lectured 
in that capacity. The specialisation of subjects in 
the Medical Faculty was as yet only incipient But 
the idea of procuring a complete organisation for 
medical education ^io-Edipburgh had been already 
conceived byrjohn Monro, ?L distinguished Army 
Surgeon of King WiHiam's army, who, after much 
foreign travel and experience, had settled in Edin- 
burgh at the beginning of the century, and was 
President of the Surgeons in 1 712-13. It is said 
that " about the year 1 720 he communicated to the 
Physicians and Surgeons a plan which he had long 
formed in his own mind, of having the different 
branches of Physic and Surgery regularly taught at 
Edinburgh, which was highly approved by them."^ 
But he had already done more than form the plan 
in his mind ; he had taken the first and most im- 
portant step towards its realisation, by dedicating 
his only son to the project, and training him from 
early boyhood to take the lead in its fulfilment. 
Nobly did Alexander Monro, Primus, carry out the 
ideas and aspirations of his father. And that father 
is described as long afterwards passing his old age 
at a country-seat in Berwickshire, happy in the 
renown of his affectionate son, and in the success of 
his favourite plan, " the founding of a Seminary of 
Medical Education in his native country." 

The merely amateur and perfunctory character 
of the Professorships of Medicine which had been 
created by the Town Council in 1685 is clearly 

^ Life of Alexander Monro^ p. 12. 



proved by the fact that John Monro, some thirty- 
five years later, thought of establishing de novo a 
Seminary of Medical Education. But this had to 
be done, and it was done by Alexander Monro, who 
became in reality the founder of the Medical School, 
not only of the University, but of the City of Edin- 
burgh. Alexander Monro was born in 1697; ^^d> 
showing an early enthusiasm for the study of 
Medicine, was admitted by his father's influence to 
assist at the post-mortem examinations made by the 
Surgeons ; he learned a little Anatomy from the 
demonstrations of Drummond and M'Gill, attended 
some of the occasional courses in Chemistry given 
by Craufurd, and got some instruction in plants from 
George Preston, then Keeper of the Physic Garden, 
and Professor of Botany in connection with the 
College. Young as he was, he had acquired prac- 
tical experience in Medicine and Surgery by acting 
as his father's apprentice. 

But all this was insufficient, and at the age of 
twenty he was sent off* to study for two years in 
London, Paris, and Leyden. In London he studied 
Anatomy under Cheselden, and the Anatomical pre- 
parations which he made there and sent down to 
Edinburgh were considered so striking that Drum- 
mond, the "conjoint Professor of Anatomy in this 
City and College," declared himself ready to resign 
his office to the young man, when he should return 
home — which generous offer. Bower thinks, was 
suggested to Drummond by his kinsman, George 
Drummond, then an influential Town Councillor, 


and afterwards the greatest of the Lord Provosts of 
Edinburgh. Monro, proceeding to Paris, attended 
classes in the hospitals, and the Anatomical teaching 
of M. Bouquet. "At Leyden he became the favourite 
and admiring pupil of the great Boerhaave."^ Re- 
turning to Edinburgh in the autumn of 17 19 he was 
examined by the College of Surgeons; and then 
Drummond and M'Gill actually resigned their con- 
joint Chair in his favour, though he was only 
twenty-two years of age ; and the College of 
Surgeons having formally recommended him to the 
Town Council, he was appointed by that body in 
January 1720 to be "Professor of Anatomy in this 
City and College," on a salary of /"is sterling per 

After eight months spent in preparation, Monro 
opened his class in the theatre in Surgeons' Hall,* 
in the presence of the Lord Provost and other dig- 
nitaries, to a class of fifty-seven Students, who were 
thenceforth regularly taught from October to May.* 
This class became steadily consolidated : for the 
first decade of years its average number was 67; 
for the second decade, 109 ; for the third, 147. It 
appears from the City Records that as early as 

^ Struthers, Historical Sketchy p. 21. 

' Built in 1697 on the site of what had been part of the Blackfriars* 
ground. In this century it was the scene of Robert Knox's teaching. 
In 1832 the Surgeons removed from it to Nicolson Street, and it then 
became part of the Old Royal Infirmary, and was used as a fever 

• Monro's courses were not limited to Anatomy ; they included 
instruction in Surgery and Surgical Treatment, and even some general 
lectures on Physiology. 


during the second session Monro's class had been 
joined by Students "from all the several parts of 
Scotland, as also from England and Ireland." 
Encouraged by this success, Monro applied to the 
Town Council in 1722 for a permanent status in the 
University. He naturally wished, and felt it due to 
himself, that he should hold a position equivalent to 
that enjoyed by Professors in other Universities, a ' 
position of security and independence. But what 
he asked was contrary to the traditions and instincts 
of the Town Council, who, partly from the love of 
authority, but partly also, no doubt, from the mis- 
taken idea^ that it would be unsafe to grant life- 
tenure of office to the University teachers, had 
repeatedly laid down the rule that Regentships and 
Professorships were tenable only during the pleasure 
of the patrons ; and so lately as August 1 7 1 9 had 
reaffirmed this principle in a general Act upon the 
subject. But now, as if overborne by the brilliancy 
and success of the young Monro, and probably act- 
ing under the advice of George Drummond, they 
departed from their former rulings, and "for his 

^ Municipal corporations are naturally prone to this idea ; they 
have no great respect for men of learning or science, and they think 
that such persons should be treated like the employes in a mercantile 
establishment They forget that anything like insecurity of tenure 
attached to Professorships, which are seldom well-paid offices, would 
greatly deter able men from seeking them. The Merchant Company 
of Edinburgh, who in 1869 liberally founded a Chair of Commercial 
and Political Economy in the University of Edinburgh, marred their 
gift to some extent by insisting that each appointment of a Professor 
to fill the Chair should be only for a period of seven years, though 
with power of re-election. This practically renders the Professor 
liable to be dismissed at the end of seven years, if his views, politically 
or otherwise, shall have displeased the electors. 


better encouragement, of new again nominated" 
Monro " sole Professor of Anatomy within this City 
and College, and that ad vitam aut culpaniy notwith- 
standing any Act of the Council formerly made to 
the contrary." Thus a most important precedent 

was laid down, which was never afterwards departed 
from, altering the whole policy of the Town Council 
towards the University, and giving Professors a 
position of independence and respectability which 
they had never before enjoyed. 

The next step in the epoch-making career of 
Monro was the removal of his Anatomical teaching 
from the Surgeons' Hall to a theatre within the 
College buildings. In April 1725, shortly before 
the close of his annual session, furious indignation 
was roused in the minds of the lower orders in 
Edinburgh by the spreading of a report that graves 
in the Greyfriars Churchyard had been violated by 
some of his Students, and corpses exhumed for dis- 
section. A formidable mob surrounded Surgeons' 
Hall threatening its demolition. ^ And nothing but 
very spirited and energetic measures on the part of 
the Magistrates could have prevented the wrecking 
of the Hall, and the destruction of the Anatomical 
preparations which Monro had during several years 
laboriously accumulated. There may very likely 
have been some foundation for the rumour which 
had excited the public mind. The number of " un- 
owned bodies" in Edinburgh, the population of 
which was then only 25,000, would be but small, and 

* Bower, ii. 182. 


quite insufficient to supply subjects to a school which 
was beginning to be enthusiastic in dissection. Even 
after Elliot had commenced teaching, the want of 
subjects was felt, and an undoubted case of body- 
snatching in the Greyfriars Churchyard occurred in 
1 7 1 1 , which called forth a strong denunciation from 
the College of Surgeons. The advent of Monro of 
course increased the zeal of Anatomical Students : 
and the Students of all denominations in Edinburgh 
at that day were a bold and turbulent set. There 
was an increasing alarm as to what might be done ; 
in 1 72 1 the College of Surgeons ordered a clause to 
be put into the indentures of apprentices against 
violation of the churchyards ; in 1722 a second case 
of body-snatching was stated to have taken place, 
and the clause was made more stringent ; in March 
1725, just before the tumult above mentioned, the 
Professor of Anatomy was ordered to report to the 
College of Surgeons on all bodies received by him, 
and to obtain permission for their use. ^ 

Such was the state of feeling when the Grey- 
friars Churchyard was again violated, and the mob 
rushed to Surgeons' Hall to stop the teaching of 
Anatomy. The tumult was appeased by the Magis- 
trates, who offered "a reward of ;^20 sterling to 
those who would discover the persons that were 
accessory to stealing dead bodies ;" and shortly after- 
wards the session of the Anatomy class came to a 
close. But it is no wonder that when Monro had 
again to commence lecturing he should desire to do 

^ Struthers, p. 22. 


SO in safer quarters. Within the walls of the College, 
the towered gateway of which was guarded by a 
Janitor, his theatre and his specimens would not be 
exposed to that immediate attack by storm with 
which he had been threatened in Surgeons* Hall. 
He therefore petitioned the Town Council to allow 
him a theatre, as Professor of Anatomy, in the 
University of Edinburgh. And they, entirely meet- 
ing his views, " appropriated a fit place in the said 
University to be adapted to the said theatre for 
public dissections, and teaching the students under 
his inspection." And thus the Chair of Anatomy 
was removed from the premises and the partial 
control of the College of Surgeons ; it ceased inde- 
finitely to belong to " this City and College ;'* it was 
localised within the University, and became the 
Chair which has been subsequently filled by several 
great Anatomists, worthy followers of Alexander 
Monro, Primus. 

There is one contemporary name which can 
never be dissociated from the achievements of the 
first Monro, and the establishment of the Medical 
Faculty of the University, and that is the name of 
George Drummond,^ the greatest iEdile that has 
ever governed the City of Edinburgh, and the wisest 
and best disposed of all the long list of Town 
Councillors and Provosts, who during 275 years 
acted as patrons of the College or University. The 
Medical Faculty was the creation of the eighteenth 
century, and it has been the boast and glory of the 

^ See Appendix J. George Drummond. 


University of Edinburgh ever since. Bower says 
of George Drummond that "from the year 1715 to 
the time of his death, in 1 766, nothing was done in 
regard to the College without his advice and discre- 
tion ;" and this period is synchronous with that of 
the establishment of the Medical Faculty. It seems 
not too much to say that, but for Drummond, the 
Medical School of the University might have had a 
far less auspicious start, and it is even possible that 
the leading Medical School of Scotland might have 
been located at Glasgow instead of in the Metropolis. 
Drummond was_greatly instrumental in placing the ^ '''^ 
young Monro in a Professor s Chair, and he after- 
wards invariably supported and assisted him. And 
in several other cases, during his fifty years of influ- 
ence, he recognised genius and fostered it. 

There was one especial measure fundamentally 
necessary to the realisation of John Monro's idea of 
a Medical Seminary in Edinburgh which was carried 
out by the conjoint labours of Alexander Monro and 
George Drummond : and that was the establishment 
of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Without a 
large public hospital of the kind a practical School 
of Medicine could never have existed, and, on the 
other hand, such a hospital would be, as it has been, 
an inestimable boon to the sick and wounded poor. 
The reasons in favour of such an institution were 
set forth by Monro in a pamphlet, which was circu- 
lated in 1 72 1, but at the time little public encourage- 
ment was given to the scheme. In 1725, however, 
when Drummond became Lord Provost for the first 

VOL. I. X 


time, he provided a basis for a subscription list by 
getting some of the funds of a " Scottish Fishery 
Company," which was then being dissolved, allocated 
for the establishment of an Infirmary. The College 
of Physicians took the matter up, and subscriptions 
for some years continued to flow in. At last, in 
1738, the foundation-stone of that building, which 
was till recently the " Royal Infirmary of Edin- 
burgh," was laid, and a great public enthusiasm on 
the subject was manifested. Drummond and Monro 
were appointed " the Building Committee,*' and they 
paid the workmen with their own hands. All classes 
contributed : landowners gave stone ; merchants 
gave timber ; farmers lent their carts for carriage of 
materials ; even the masons and other labourers 
gave one day's work out of the month gratis^ as it 
was a building for the benefit of the poor. 

In the meantime the Town Council had been 
taking measures, doubtless under suggestion from 
the Monros and other leading members of the 
Physicians and Surgeons, to supplement the teaching 
of Anatomy and Surgery now provided, and estab- 
lish the systematic teaching of Medicine. They 
passed an Act in August 1724 wherein, ** considering 
the great benefit and advantage that would accrue 
to this City and Kingdom, by having all the parts 
of Medicine taught in this place ; and likewise 
considering that hitherto the Institutes and Practice 
of Medicine, though the principal parts thereof, have 
not been professed or taught in the said College ; — 
therefore they hereby institute and establish the 


foresaid Profession of the Institutes and Practice of 
Medicine in their said College, and do elect, nomi- 
nate, and choose Mr. William Porterfield, Doctor of 
Medicine in Edinburgh," to be Professor. They 
granted him all " powers, privileges, and immunities " 
enjoyed by any other Professor, but at the same 
time no salary ; and, mindful how the Professorships 
of Medicine which they had created in 1685 had 
borne no fruit in the shape of teaching, they inserted 
the clause that **Dr. Porterfield by his acceptation, 
binds and obliges himself to give colleges (i.e. courses 
of lectures) regularly, in order to the instructing of 
students in the said science of medicine." 

Even this stringent contract does not appear to 
have had the desired effect ; there is no evidence 
that Porterfield ever lectured. The City Records 
are, as so often happens with them, silent about 
particular^which one would have expected them to 
narrate. In about a year and a half after Porter- 
field's formal appointment, two other Professors 
were with equal formality appointed to fill his Chair, 
without any word to indicate how that Chair had 
become vacant, whether by resignation, or super- 
session, or how. The facts, however, which Bower 
has elicited, suggest a conjectural explanation of the 
matter. Porterfield appears to have been a man of 
considerable private fortune, of great ability and 
accomplishments, but with a speculative^ rather than 

* See Bower's History ^ ii. 200203. Porterfield brought out in 17 13 
a mathematical demonstration of the strength of the bones to resist 
transverse fracture. And in 1759 a Trtatise on the Eye^ in which 


a practical turn of mind ; more suited to deal with 
Natural Philosophy in application to Medicine than 
with the Practice of Physic. And withal, he is said 
to have been a man of peculiar temper and much 
self-will. Under all these circumstances it is not 
difficult to suppose that Porterfield, though he had 
been warmly recommended by the College of Physi- 
cians as one who was *' otherwise well qualified, and 
also disengaged from the necessary business of all 
other public professions," and though he accepted 
the compliment implied in his appointment to be 
Professor of the Institutes and Practice of Medicine, 
yet, when he came to face the duties of the Chair, 
found that they would be irksome to him. Being 
above the necessity of lecturing for fees,' — if he found 
other able Physicians in Edinburgh anxious to do 
so, he may very likely have stepped aside in their 
favour, and have signified to the Town Council his 
resignation of the appointment which they had 
conferred upon him ; though it seems extraordinary 
that this resignation should not have been recorded. 
However this may be, we find four members of 
the College of Physicians, Drs. John Rutherford, 
Andrew Sinclair, Andrew Plummer, and John Innes, 
pressing forward into the breach. What these 
gentlemen first did was, in November 1724, shortly 
after the date of Porterfield's appointment, to apply 
for the keeping and use of the College garden, with 

metaphysical and mathematical ideas were combined with anatomical 
and physiological observations, and which contained no reference to 
the diseases of the eye. 


the view of rearing pharmaceutical plants therein. 
They proposed to set up, at their own cost, a 
chemical laboratory in conjunction with the garden, 
their object being to supply the apothecaries' shops 
with drugs. And they undertook to keep and leave 
the garden in good order if they should be allowed 
a ten years' lease of it. The College garden was a 
large space of ground which had belonged to the 
old Kirk-of-Field, and which ran along the east side 
of the College, where the causeway and houses of 
Nicolson Street and South Bridge Street now are, 
and extending away to join the grounds of the 
Blackfriars. It is clearly shown in the plan of 
Edinburgh drawn by Gordon of Rothiemay in 
161 7 (see opposite). There was also a strip of 
garden along the south face of the old College 
buildings, where South College Street now is. The 
'' yard " (or garden) of the College had been hitherto, 
at least nominally, under the keeping of the Pro- 
fessors of Botany ; but the first Professor, Sutherland, 
had ultimately neglected the College yard. And the 
four petitioners, in 1724, speak of it as having been 
** formerly let to Mr. George Preston " (the third 
Professor of Botany), and as having *' for some years 
lain in disorder." Perhaps the Professor of Botany 
found the keeping of the Physic Garden of the City 
sufficient to occupy his whole time, and did not care 
to provide a second edition of the same in connection 
with the College. It is indicative of the enterprising 
spirit of the Physicians in Edinburgh of those days 
that four of them should have formed themselves 


into a little company for the production of vegetable 
drugs from this neglected College yard. The Town 
Council approved of the proposal, and granted the 
request of the applicants. An ulterior result of the 
movement seems to have been to bring the four 
Physicians into prominence, and into a sort of rela- 
tionship to the College, which very soon became 

In February 1726 Rutherford, Sinclair, Plummer, 
and Innes presented another petition to the Town 
Council, "craving the Council to institute the Pro- 
fession (of Medicine) in the College of Edinburgh, 
and appoint the petitioners to teach and profess the 
same." And in their preamble they stated that they 
had already, " under the Council's protection, under- 
taken the professing and teaching of Medicine in 
this City, and, by the encouragement which the 
Council had been pleased to grant them, had carried 
it on with some success." Thus Porterfield had 
mysteriously vanished from the scene ; whether he 
had simply stepped back, on second thoughts, into 
philosophical retirement, or whether differences had 
arisen between him and the patrons, we cannot tell ; 
but at all events the coast was clear, and the Town 
Council were asked to institute Professorships of 
Medicine, just as if none had hitherto existed. 
Apparently the petitioners had been supplying 
Porterfield s place as a lecturer by giving lectures 
on Medicine in the Town ; or, if Porterfield lectured, 
then they had been playing the part of extra-mural 
rivals, with the sanction of the Town Council. 


That body, in reply, took the same tone as the 
petitioners had done; they utterly ignored the 
Commission which they had given to Porterfield 
only eighteen months before, and enunciated afresh 
that " it would be of great advantage to this College, 
City, and Country, that Medicine in all its branches 
be professed here, by such a number of Professors 
of that science as may by themselves promote 
students to their degrees, with as great solemnity 
as is done in any other College or University at 
home or abroad." These were important words, 
and the Act in which they are contained, passed 
under the Provostship of George Drummond, con- 
stituted the charter of the Medical Faculty of the 
University of Edinburgh. Hitherto there had been 
isolated measures, and the title of " Professor" had 
been conferred in an honorary way upon individuals. 
But now for the first time the Town Council showed 
that they understood what is necessary to make a 
University Medical School — namely, a sufficient 
staff of Professors to instruct Students in all the 
main branches of Medical Science, and then conduct 
them to graduation with all the guarantees that the 
degree of any other University could give. And 
such a staff the Town Council were now resolved 
to create. 

It is true that prior to 1726 the degree of 
Doctor of Medicine had not infrequently^ been 

1 The first Medical degree conferred by the University was in 
1705 ; the second in 17 10. Altogether twenty-one degrees were con- 
ferred on the recommendation of the College of Physicians prior to 
1726, of which, however, two were admissions ad eundem^ granted to 


conferred by "the University of Edinburgh"; but 
this had been invariably done at the instance and 
by the recommendation of the Royal College of 
Physicians. Thus we find a minute of that body, 
dated 1710, which narrates that "the President and 
three Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians 
having been appointed by the said College ^ to take 
trial of the learning and qualification of Mr. Jonathan 
Harly, in order to his obtaining the degree of Doctor 
of Medicine, having discoursed with the said Mr. 
Harly, and prepared several questions, both in the 
theory and practice of Medicine, do find him a man 
of good learning, and sufficiently qualified for 
obtaining the degree aforesaid ; and therefore we 
recommend him to the Reverend and Honourable 
the Principal, Professors, and Masters of the Uni- 
versity of Edinburgh, that they will be pleased to 
confer the degree of Doctor of Medicine on the 
said Mr. Jonathan Harly." One peculiarity here 
was that the recommendation for a degree was 
made, not to the Town Council as patrons, not to 
the Lord Provost as Rector or Chancellor of the 
University, but directly to the Principal and Pro- 
fessors as the degree-giving body, and the fountain 
of Academical honour. And in this understanding 

Doctors of other Universities. It is noted in the Graduation Book 
that no Thesis was produced by any of the twenty-one persons thus 

^ That is to say, the Royal College of Physicians. These words, 
however, were endeavoured to be wrested, in an action of the Senatus 
Academicus against the Town Council, so late as 1850, to mean "that 
these Examiners were selected by the Principal and Professors of the 
College " of Edinburgh. 


the Town Council appear to have tacitly acquiesced. 
It is therefore the more surprising that on other 
occasions they should have refused to recognise that 
the Town's College contained within itself a 
** Faculty " or Senatus Academicus. 

But in 1726 they were bent on strengthening 
their College and raising it to the dignity of " any 
College or University whatsoever." And especially 
they resolved to give it the means of educating and 
examining for itself candidates for its degrees in 
Medicine. They proceeded, accordingly, to " unani- 
mously constitute, nominate, and appoint, Drs. 
Andrew Sinclair and John Rutherford, to be Pro- 
fessors of the Theory and Practice of Medicine ; 
and Drs. Andrew Plummer and John Innes, to be 
Professors of Medicine and Chemistry^ in the College 
of Edinburgh ; with full power to all of them to 
profess and teach Medicine in all its branches — to 
examine candidates, and to do every other thing 
requisite and necessary to the graduation of doctors 
of medicine." They conferred these appointments 
ad vitani aut culpam ; but they were to be unaccom- 
panied by any salary out of the City's revenues. 

This Act of 1726 not only established the 
Medical Faculty of the University by creating four 
Professorships in Medicine, in addition to the Chair 
of Anatomy already existing, but it also for the first 
time recognised on the part of the Town Council 

^ Craufurd, who in 17 13 had been appointed " Professor of Chemis- 
try in the University of Edinburgh," must now have either deceased, 
or else have voluntarily discontinued his occasional courses of lectures 
(see above, p. 297). 


the right of the Principal and Professors to " deliber- 
ate and vote on the affairs of general concern to the 
College/' Of course the practice of so deliberating 
and voting had long existed, but it had never been 
recognised, and on one occasion, at least, the right 
had been formally denied (see above, pp. 240-246). 
But now the Council, being in a more reasonable 
frame of mind, recognised the practice, and proceeded 
to regulate it by ordaining that of the four new 
Professors '* two only^ shall at one time have the 
privilege of voting with the other Professors in 
College affairs.'* They were to enjoy this privilege 
in alternate years ; first, one Professor of the Theory 
and Practice of Medicine, and one Professor of 
Medicine and Chemistry were to be privileged for 
a year to deliberate and vote, and then for the next 
year they were to be disfranchised, and the other 
pair were to come in. The term " Senatus Academi- 
cus " is never used in the Act, but the existence of 
such a body is clearly implied by its provisions. 
And, as if acting on the encouragement which they had 
received, the Principal and Professors met in the sub- 
sequent October as a Senaius Academicus, and having 
recognised the five Medical Professors as a Medical 
Faculty, entered them as such in their minutes. 

The Town Council had not exactly defined the 
provinces of the four Professors whom they 
appointed ; it appears, however, that while Dr. 

* The reason for limiting the new Medical votes in the CoUege 
Councils is not known. Perhaps the Arts Professors may have made 
a representation on the subject. The restriction was removed by an 
Act of the Town Council on the 26th February 1729. 


Plummer lectured on Chemistry, or rather Chemi- 
cal Pharmacy, Dr. Innes ignored the term ** Chem- 
istry " in his commission, and simply taught the 
Practice of Physic conjointly with Dr. Rutherford, 
who lectured on Boerhaave's Aphorismi de Cogno- 
scendis et Curandis Morbis. Dr. Sinclair, who had 
chosen the Institutes of Theory of Medicine as his 
province, took the Institutiones Medica of the same 
author for his text-book. There was no longer any 
dtlettante'ism about the Medical Professorships in 
the College ; systematic courses were henceforth 
delivered, though for a time there \/as a want of 
originality about them, as they were entirely a re- 
production of the system of Boerhaave.^ 

On the same day (9th February 1726) on which 
the Town Council added four new Professors to the 
staff of the College they also proceeded to appoint 
a Professor of Midwifery, not, however, for the 
College, but for the City. It was hardly contem- 
plated in those days that Medical Students should go 
through a course of obstetrics, the whole practice 
and profession of which was then left to females. 
But one Mr. Joseph Gibson, a Surgeon of Edin- 
burgh, had outstepped his era, and had for some time 
practised this important art in the town of Leith, 
and, supported by the recommendations of members 
of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, he now 
applied to the Town Council to create him a Pro- 

^ The notices in the Scots Magazine of the courses of lectures in 
the University of Edinburgh for 1741 do not contain any particulars 
as to the teaching of the Medical Professors beyond what is above 


fessor, which they did, nominating him " Professor 
of Midwifery in this City and privileges," with power 
to him " to profess and teach the said art, in as large 
an extent as it is taught in any city or place where 
this profession is already instituted/' And with this 
appointment they joined a system of rules for the 
regulation of the practice of Midwifery in Edinburgh. 
Here again we have an instance of a branch of study 
elevated into a Professorship owing to suggestions 
from without. As Bower says: "This institution, like 
every other connected with the history of Medicine 
in Edinburgh, originated with the colleges of Physi- 
cians and Surgeons." At first, as in other cases, 
the Professorship of Midwifery was general and un- 
attached, but subsequently it was incorporated into 
the University. On the death of Gibson in 1739 
he was succeeded by Mr. Robert Smith, who re- 
ceived a commission appointing him " Professor of 
Midwifery in this City's College," "with the same 
privileges and immunities which the other Professors 
in the said College do enjoy, or that are known to 
appertain to a Professor of Midwifery in any other 
well regulated city or place." ^ 

The next great step in the progress of the Medi- 

* The researches of Professor A. R. Simpson (see his Introductory 
Lecture on the History of the Chair of Midwifery^ etc., Edinburgh, 
1883, pp. 9, 10), lead to the conclusion that Joseph Gibson was the 
first person who ever received the title of " Professor of Midwifery.** 
Professor Simpson says that none of the title-pages of the obstetric 
treatises prior to 1726 indicate that the authors had that title. And he 
refers to Killian's Geburislehre, p. 23, for the fact that the University 
of Strasburg was the first on the Continent to have a Professorship of 
Midwifery, dating from 1728, i.e. two years after Gibson had received 


cal School of the University was made in 1746, 
when George Drummond, after an interval of twenty 
years, returned to office as Lord Provost, in the 
autumn succeeding the battle of CuUoden. The 
Royal Infirmary, his creation, had then been opened, 
and one of the first acts of his administration was to 
institute clinical lectures in the Infirmary. The 
Managers, by his advice, permitted all Students of 
Medicine, upon paying a small gratuity, to attend 
the hospital. Dr. Rutherford, as Professor of the 
Practice of Physic, commenced delivering clinical 
lectures in the winter session of 1746-47, and was 
immediately attended by a large number of Students. 
Rutherford's clinical courses were continued over 
twenty years, and he thus solidly inaugurated that 
practical instruction in Medicine for which the Uni- 
versity of Edinburgh has been distinguished. 

We have seen that in 1726 the Senatus Academi- 
cus recognised five Professors as constituting the 
Medical Faculty, namely, those of Anatomy, Insti- 
tutes of Medicine, Practice of Physic, and two joint 
Professors of Medicine and Chemistry. The next 
expansion in the Faculty took place in the province 
of Botany. The Town Council, so long back as 
1676, had given the title of '* Professor of Botany in 
the Town's College" to Mr. Sutherland, Keeper of 
the Physic Garden. But this was an outside and 
quasi -honorary Professorship, and no systematic 

his appointment in Edinburgh. The Town Council then, in speaking 
of " other cities and places where this profession is instituted,'' were 
unconscious that they were doing something original, and were not 
following, but founding, a precedent 


teaching in Botany seems to have been given, either 
by Sutherland or by his two successors in the 
appointment, Charles and George Preston. At last 
Dr. Charles Alston appeared on the scene ; he had 
devoted his life to the study of Botany, and had especi- 
ally imbued himself at Leyden with the ideas of 
Boerhaave on this science. On returning to Edin- 
burgh about the year 1720, aged thirty-seven, he 
seems to have got the sinecure office of Kings 
Botanist in connection with the gardens of Holyrood, 
and to have begun giving some lectures. Eighteen 
years later, in the year 1738, George Preston died, 
and the Town Council, "considering that were a Pro- 
fessor of Medicine and Botany elected and installed 
in the City's College, it would in a great measure 
contribute to the advancement of learning, etc. ; they 
therefore appoint Dr. Charles Alston, etc." And 
this vigorous man, commencing when he was fifty- 
five years old, delivered two courses of lectures 
annually for the next twenty-two years — one on 
Botany and one on Materia Medica. And so the 
teaching of these two subjects got regularly estab- 
lished in the University. 

What had been thus begun was diligently carried 
forward by Dr. John Hope, who in 1761 was 
appointed by the Town Council " Professor of 
Botany and Materia Medica." Like his predecessor, 
he gave an annual course in each of these subjects, 
and he laboured indefatigably in introducing the 
Linnaean system into Scotland. But subdivision 
and specialisation of science was required in order 


to give the Medical School of the University its 
complete organisation. In 1768 Dr. Hope received 
a commission from the King as Regius Professor of 
Botany, and he then appears to have recommended 
to the patrons that the province of Materia Medica 
should be separated from his Chair and entrusted to 
other hands. Accordingly Dr. Francis Home, who 
was well qualified by study and experience at home 
and abroad for this charge, was appointed to a separ- 
ate Professorship of Materia Medica, which he 
worthily inaugurated during a period of thirty years. 

In 1770 the Medical School of the University 
received a fresh augmentation directly from the 
hands of the Crown, for in January of that year we 
find recorded a petition of Dr. Robert Ramsay, 
setting forth that he had been appointed by the 
King, on the 13th March 1767, Regius Professor of 
Natural History, and Keeper of the Museum in the 
University, with a salary of ;^70 per annum ; and 
praying to be admitted Professor, under the usual 
reservation of the town's rights, and to be appointed 
by the Town Council Keeper of the Museum, with 
a commission from them, which petition the Council 
graciously acceded to, on condition that Dr. Ramsay 
conform to their regulations, and deliver to the clerk 
a full list or inventory of the curiosities belonging to 
the University. 

Unfortunately, the paucity of those curiosities 
and, in fact, the want of a proper Museum^ of 

* Sec Appendix K. The Natural History Museum of the 


Natural History, put great difficulties in the way of 
Dr. Ramsay, who appears, either from this or some 
other cause, to have seldom attempted lecturing. 
The Chair of Natural History, like so many others 
in the University of Edinburgh, made a lame start. 
But on the death of Ramsay Dr. John Walker, a 
Scotch clergyman of great ability, who had acquired 
considerable note as a naturalist, received from the 
Crown the newly-instituted Professorship, and he, 
with great zeal and energy, both enlarged the 
Natural History collections in the University, and 
gave regular courses of lectures, which were attended 
by a good number of the Students, and also by many 
amateur pupils of riper age. 

During the fifty years between 1720 and 1770 
there were instituted in the University of Edinburgh 
eight Chairs belonging to the Faculty of Medicine 
(Anatomy, Institutes of Medicine, Practice of Physic, 
Chemistry, Midwifery, Botany, Materia Medica, 
and Natural History), and a system of clinical 
teaching in Medicine, had been organised. This 
foundation of a great Medical school was mainly 
due to the impulse which came from the Edinburgh 
Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, seconded by 
the good-will and sagacity of George Drummond. 
But some credit must also be given to the Govern- 
ment of that day. Dr. Somerville^ says : ** I know it 
to be a fact that Provost Drummond, the most meri- 
torious benefactor of the community over which he 

> My Own Life and Titnes^ 1741-1814, by Thomas Somerville, D.D., 
Minister of Jedburgh, p. 380. 



presided, did not find himself at liberty to promise 
any preferment at the disposal of the Town Council 
of Edinburgh without the previous consent of Lord 
Milton, the delegate and political agent of Archibald 
Duke of Argyll. It was fortunate for the public that 
in the enlightened scheme for filling the Chairs in the 
University with the ablest candidates, the Duke of 
Argyll concurred with Lord Provost Drummond." 
Nothing, indeed, could be more fortunate or more 
creditable to the patrons than the selection made 
by them of Professors to fill the various Chairs ; but 
the personal qualifications of those Professors must 
be reserved for subsequent consideration. 

The Faculty of Medicine might soon have been 
still farther increased, had it not been for the resist- 
ance of the Senatus Academicus. But in fact almost 
every subsequent addition to the Faculty, beyond 
the original eight Chairs, met with determined 
opposition from existing Professors, owing to that 
conservatism to which allusion has been already 
made (above, p. 290) ; and thus improvements in 
the University system had to be forced upon the 
University from without. In 1777 the College of 
Surgeons, being desirous to have Surgery taught in 
the University by a separate Professor, memorialised 
the Crown on the subject. But they were defeated 
by the influence of Alexander Monro, secundns, who 
selfishly demanded to keep the teaching of Surgery, 
as well as of Anatomy, on the ground that both his 
father and himself had taught both subjects (above, 
p. 300, note). He was supported by Principal 

VOL. I. v 


Robertson and by the other Medical Professors, and 
the Town Council granted him a new Commission, 
"expressly bearing him to be Professor of Medicine 
and particularly of Anatomy and Surgery;" they, 
however, reserved power to themselves or their suc- 
cessors in office ** to separate the offices of Professor 
of Anatomy and Surgery at any time after the 
decease of the said Dr. Alexander Monro." Dr. 


A. Hamilton (Chairman of the Surgeons and after- 
wards Professor^ of Midwifery) protested against 
this, because **as the surgeon must be formed by 
witnessing practice on the living body, the Professor 
of Anatomy could not give the rudiments of the art 
of Surgery."^ But in vain; for more than fifty 
years deference continued to be paid to the interests 
of the Monro family, and the separate teaching of 
Systematic Surgery was prevented in the Uni- 

The introduction of Clinical Surgery was, how- 
ever, unopposed ; this occurred in 1802, when Mr. 
James Russell, Surgeon, petitioned the Town 
Council to the effect that, "The high reputation 
which the University of Edinburgh enjoys as a 
school of Medicine, whither Students resort even 
from the continents of Europe and of America, is 
greatly due to the clinical instruction in Medicine 
here given ; that it is expedient to add to this clini- 
cal instruction in Surgery also; that Mr. Russell 

' See Dr. Gairdner's paper On the History of the Medical Profes- 
sion in Edinburgh in the Edinburgh Medical Journal for 1862, p. 


himself undertook in 1786 to give some clinical 
lectures in practical Surgery, and that in seventeen 
years he has given twenty-four courses of such 
lectures and has received high testimony in their 
favour ; he therefore prays the Town Council to 
erect his Lectureship into a Professorship in the 
University, under the title of 'the Clinical and 
Pathological Professor of Surgery.'" This petition 
having been referred to the Senatus Academicus, 
they, after conference with the Managers of the 
Royal Infirmary, reported in favour of it, — on con- 
dition that the rights of the Professor of Anatomy 
and Surgery be not interfered with, and that the 
" Professor of Clinical Surgery " do not give courses 
of Systematic Surgery. 

The Town Council accordingly took steps for 
obtaining from the Crown some endowment for the 
Chair which was to be established, and, with the 
assistance of the Dundases, they were successful in 
this attempt. In June 1803 there came down a 
Commission from George III. creating a Chair of 
Clinical Surgery in the University of Edinburgh 
with an endowment of ;^5o per annum out of the 
"Bishops Rents," and appointing Mr. James Russell 
as the first Professor ; — with clauses, however, pro- 
tecting the rights of the Professor of Anatomy and 
Surgery, as had been suggested by the Senatus. 

The want of a separate Chair of Systematic 
Surgery began to be more and more felt, especially 
owing to the comparative incompetence of Alex- 
ander Monro, tertius^ who (as "conjoint Professor to 


his aged father") was monopolising the subjects of 
Anatomy and Surgery. In 1804 ^he College of 
Surgeons published an advertisement in which they 
said that they ** have appointed Mr. John Thomson, 
' Professor of Surgery to the College ' and have 
directed him to deliver annually during the Winter 
Session, a course of lectures on the Principles and 
Practice of Surgery." They added that these lec- 
tures would be " a valuable addition to the system 
of Medical Education in the University." The 
Senatus Academicus were at once up in arms 
against this announcement. They wanted to take 
legal proceedings, on the ground that the rights of 
the Town Council were being infringed, but they 
were advised by their Faculty of Laws not to do so, 
as "the restraining clause in the Royal charter of 
1582 does not appear to have been acted upon to 
the effect of restraint and exclusion, and therefore 
probably would not be enforced by a Court of Law." 
For instance, they pointed out that a "Professor- 
ship of Conveyancing " had been instituted by the 
Writers to the Signet (above, p. 290) not many years 
ago, and never interfered with. 

The Senatus refrained on this occasion from 
going to law, but they were still busying themselves 
about a memorial for getting Mr. John Thomson 
stopped from holding the Professorship of Surgery 
which the College of Surgeons had conferred upon 
him, when all of a sudden, on the 7th November 
1806, they were informed that a Commission from 
George IIL had come down erecting a " Professor- 


ship of Military Surgery in our University of Edin- 
burgh," to be endowed with an annual salary of 
;^ioo from Bishops Rents, and appointing Mr. 
John Thomson to be first Professor. The Town 
Council apparently considered themselves bound by 
the terms of their commission (above, p. 322) to 
Alexander Monro, secundusy who was still alive. 
They therefore had gone to work by a side wind to 
get the teaching of Surgery in the University sup- 
plemented. The new Royal Commission was 
received by the Senatus under protest from the 
Monros that it encroached upon their rights, and that 
it had been obtained "in consequence of surprise 
and misconception and want of due information on 
the part of His Majesty's Ministers." 

In 1 8 16 the Town Council proposed the creation 
of a Chair of ** Comparative Anatomy and Veterinary 
Surgery." The Senatus opposed this and petitioned 
against it, though one of their body, who was always 
enlightened and liberal — Dr- Duncan senior — refused 
to join in their petition, protesting ** that such a Chair 
would be no prejudice to any existing Professorship, 
and would be highly advantageous and creditable to 
the University." 

In 1829 the Royal Commission, which was then 
sitting, having informed the Senatus that they meant 
to recommend the establishment of a separate Chair 
of Surgery, Dr. Monro, tertius, protested against 
this on the grounds that ** Surgery " was included in 
his Commission ; that he had prepared a course of 
lectures on the subject ; and that his pupils had 


always continued numerous in spite of the rivalry of 
other schools. He perhaps would not have admitted 
that this last circumstance was due to the fame of 
the Medical School of the University and not to his 
own merits. But it was well known that many 
Students, after paying him his fees and nominally 
enrolling in his class (with a view to graduation) 
had gone outside the University for instruction in 
Surgery, and had thus been obliged to pay for the 
same subject twice over. Monro added the very 
curious reason that it would be hard on him to 
restrict him to Anatomy, as he could only teach it 
imperfectly, owing to the deficiency of bodies for 
dissection. He said that there were only one 
hundred unclaimed bodies per annum in Edinburgh, 
and that fifty during the winter months was an 
inadequate supply for all the teachers of Anatomy. 

But the protests of Dr. Monro received their 
quiettis in September 1831, when the matter was cut 
short by a resolution of the Government to establish, 
in accordance with representations from the Town 
Council, not only a Chair of Surgery, but also one of 
Pathology. The announcement of this intention 
caused great excitement in the Senatus, who ex- 
pressed their sentiments on the subjects in a letter 
to the Town Council. Their dislike to the proposed 
Crown appointments led them even to say that the 
patronage of the University had better be left in 
the hands of the Town Council, who were " always 
impartial and amenable to public opinion." This 
language, used for the purpose of the moment, was 


very different from that which the Senatus had 
employed a few years previously, nor did they after- 
wards adhere to the same view, as will be shown in 
a subsequent chapter. 

On the nth October 1831 Commissions from 
William IV. were presented, nominating Dr. John 
Thomson and John William Turner, Esq., to be 
respectively Professors of Pathology and Surgery 
in the University of Edinburgh. There were 
certain peculiarities in these appointments. They 
gave no stipend to either of the Professors from 
Bishops* Teinds or otherwise ; on the other hand, 
the Commissions gave each Professor power ''to 
examine candidates and do everything that may be 
required and necessary to the graduation of Doctors 
of Medicine." This clause might be construed as 
making the classes of Pathology and Surgery neces- 
sary for Medical graduation, and it was thus an 
interference on the part of the Crown with the regu- 
lations of the University. And as such it was pro- 
tested against, of course without effect, both by the 
Town Council and the Senatus. The latter body 
sent up a long representation to Lord Melbourne 
to the effect that a Chair of Pathology was unneces- 
sary and inexpedient, as the Chair of the Practice of 
Physic covered this subject ; and as to a Chair of 
Surgery, that they would agree to separate teaching 
of Surgery, provided that so long as Monro gave a 
distinct course of lectures upon it, this should be 
considered equivalent to the course of the new 
Professor. To this representation Lord Melbourne, 


then Home Secretary, vouchsafed only a brief reply 
— that the thing was done and there was an end of 
it, and that if the Senatus felt themselves aggrieved 
they might go to law. Thus two most important 
Chairs were introduced against the wishes of the 
Senatus Academicus, and the foundation of these 
Chairs in 1831 completed the Professorial staff of 
the Faculty of Medicine, a Chair of Clinical Surgery 
having been added in 1803 to the eight previously 
existing Chairs of the Faculty ; a Chair of Military 
Surgery in 1806; and a Chair of Medical Juris- 
prudence, belonging to the Faculties both of Laws 
and of Medicine, in 1807 (above, p. 291). The 
number of the Medical Professorships was thus 
raised to thirteen, and there was now almost a 
superfluity of the teaching of Surgery. But on the 
death of Sir George Ballingall, Professor of Military 
Surgery, 1856, Syme, the Professor of Clinical 
Surgery, wrote to Lord Panmure, then Secretary of 
State for War, recommending that the Chair of 
Military Surgery should be removed from Edinburgh 
to the neighbourhood of some great Military and 
Naval Hospital. The Crimean War had doubtless 
called attention to the subject, and the Government 
approving of Professor Syme s suggestion suppressed 
the Chair of Military Surgery in the University of 
Edinburgh, thus reducing the Medical Faculty to its 
present complement of twelve Professors. 

We have related above (p. 265) the decline of 
Arts graduation in the University of Edinburgh 
during the last century. With the Medical classes 



during the same period the case was exactly 
opposite. From the date of the establishment of 
the Medical Faculty in 1726 to the end of the 
century, the custom of graduation in Medicine took 
root, and the number of these receiving the degree 
of Doctor of Medicine steadily increased. At first, 
from 1726 to 1748, under half-a-dozen names on an 
average each year are recorded in the List of 
Graduates in Medicine. From the middle of the 
century, just when the graduations in Arts were 
dwindling to nothing, Medical graduations rose to 
an average of over a dozen per annum. And, on a 
rough computation, after 1770 over twenty of these 
degrees were taken annually ; after 1 780 over thirty ; 
and at the end of last century over fifty. During 
the early part of the present century the number 
soon rose to a hundred; in 1824 as many as one 
hundred and forty took the M.D. degree; and in 1827 
the high-water of Medical graduation (prior to the 
Universities Act of 1858) was reached, there being 
one hundred and sixty Medical Graduates, whereof 
fifty were Scotch, forty-six English, thirty-six Irish, 
and the rest from the West Indies, Canada, and other 
colonies, with a few from foreign countries. Of course 
the Medical degree had a solid professional value, 
which increased in proportion as the Medical School 
of the University advanced in public estimation. 

While these degrees were being increasingly 
sought after by Students, the Medical Faculty and 
the Senatus Academicus were watchful over the 
conditions under which they should be conferred. 

330 THE STORY OF THE UNIVERSITY, [i 767-1833. 

In 1767 Statuta Solennia were enacted within the 
University for the ordering of Medical degrees. 
For the Arts Facuhy regulations in the English 
language would, at that date, have been considered 
good enough. But the Medical Faculty had always 
about them an air of old-fashioned dignity ; and it 
was quite in keeping with their wigs and gold-headed 
canes that they should put forth statutes couched in 
not unclassical Latin. The Statuta Solennia of 
1767 were afterwards, from time to time, slightly 
modified; — in 1777, ^^ ^7^2>y ^^ 181 1, in 181 3, in 
1814, in 1818, in 1823, and in 1825 ; but, on the 
whole, it may be said that the system laid down in 
1767, and the form of examination for Medical 
degrees then prescribed, remained the same in 
their essential particulars down to 1833, when new 
Statuta were promulgated, which introduced essen- 
tial changes into the system, especially as regards 
the mode of examining candidates for degrees. 

The chief features of the scheme of the Statuta 
Solennia of 1767 were as follows : — 

I St. No one was to be admitted as a candidate 
for a degree in Medicine who had not thoroughly 
completed a course of study in all the branches of 
Medical teaching in this or some other University. 
Ten years afterwards (in 1777) this rule was defined 
to mean : " The candidate shall have attended classes 
in Anatomy and Surgery, Chemistry, Botany, 
Materia Medica and Pharmacy, the Theory and 
Practice of Medicine, and the lectures in Clinical 
Medicine given in the Royal Infirmary." No 

1767-1833-] MEDICAL DEGREE SYSTEM. 331 

change in this list of subjects was made till 1825, 
when Midwifery was added as a necessary subject, 
and the candidate was required to have gone through 
a three months' course in any two of the following : — 
Practical Anatomy, Natural History, Medical Juris- 
prudence, Clinical Surgery, and Military Surgery. 
In 1783 the course of Medical study necessary for 
graduation was fixed at three years, of which at 
least one year was to have been passed at the Uni- 
versity of Edinburgh. In 1825 the course was 
raised to four years, with exceptions in favour of 
Masters of Arts, Surgeons to the Army, Navy, or 
East India Company, and Hospital Assistants. 

2d. The candidate, having applied to the Dean 
of the Medical Faculty three months before the 
Graduation day, was to be privately examined, at 
the house of one of the Professors, as to his literary 
attainments in general, and as to his proficiency in 
the different branches of Medicine. 

This Examination comprised what is now called 
the " Preliminary Examination in Arts." It decided 
whether a candidate knew enough Latin to be allowed 
to graduate. It also enabled the Faculty to judge, 
no doubt with sufficient accuracy, whether a candidate 
had not better be sent back to his Medical studies for 
another year. Many were so sent back, but as the 
whole transaction was private no disgrace attended 
failure at this trial. In 181 1, however, such private 
investigations appear to have been discontinued. 

3d. The next step for a candidate, who had 
passed the first ordeal, was to submit a Medical Thesis 


to one of the Professors, who was to read and correct 
it, and, if he approved it, to sign it accordingly. 

4th. The candidate was next to be examined 
more minutely by two Professors, in the presence of 
the Faculty, on the different branches of Medicine. 

5th. Then two of the Aphorisms of Hippocrates 
were to be given him for explanation and illustration. 
He was to make his comments in writing, and defend 
them before the Faculty. 

6th. Next he was to have two cases {morborum 
historuB) given him, with questions attached. He 
was to return answers in writing, and defend them 
before the Faculty. 

7th. Then, if all had previously gone well, he 
was to have his Thesis printed by the University 
printer, and present copies to each member of the 
Faculty of Medicine. And on the Graduation day 
he would defend his Thesis, and then receive the 
Doctor s degree. 

8th. All the above-mentioned exercises, both 
oral and written, were to be in the Latin language. 

This system, substantially unchanged, continued 
in vogue till 1834, when for the first time Theses 
written in English were accepted.^ An Emeritus 
Professor, still living, describes his own examination 

^ The Senatus Academicus having resolved in October 1833 that 
for the future the language of Medical Theses should be optional, on 
the next Graduation day (ist August 1834), out of one hundred and 
ten graduates only nineteen presented Latin Theses, the rest English 
ones. In 1835 there were two Latin Theses ; one was by a Spaniard, 
the other by an Irishman named Epaphroditus Young. In 1837 
two ; in 1838 one ; in 1840 the last of the Latin Theses was given in 
by a student from Jamaica. 


in 1 83 1 ; how he attended, in evening dress, at the 
house of one of the Professors, and, taking his place 
at a table round which all the Medical Professors 
were assembled, was asked questions by each of 
them successively in Latin, to which he replied in 
the same language. Such an examination must 
have been extremely incomplete. That which is 
now divided into three stages — the First and 
Second Professional and the Third or Clinical 
Examinations — was then all got through in a single 
sitting by means of a few oral questions, without 
either examination papers or practical examinations. 
And both examiners and examinee were doubtless 
hampered by having to interchange ideas in what 
was to both of them a dead language.^ But the 
Medical Examinations of the University were greatly 
improved by the Statuta of 1833, which substituted 
English for Latin as the language for both oral 
and written tests, and in lieu of the private house 
system introduced Examinations held within the 
University and divided into two stages ; the first 
scientific (in Anatomy, Chemistry, Botany, Insti- 
tutes of Medicine, and Zoology), the second pro- 
fessional (in Materia Medica, Pathology, Practice of 
Medicine, Surgery, Midwifery, and Medical Juris- 
prudence). Each stage consisted of both written 
and oral examinations. The system only required 
a little improvement by the Commission of 1858 to 
become perfectly efficient and thorough. 

^ A graphic account by the late Sir R. Christison of his own exami- 
nation under this system will be given subsequently. 


IV. When we consider the enlightened views of 
the Reformers as to what a School of Theology 
should be, the zeal of the people of Edinburgh in 
the seventeenth century for the endowment of a 
Chair of Divinity in their College, and the desire of 
Henderson, and afterwards of Carstares, to have 
learned teachers of Theology brought to Scotland 
from abroad ; above all, when we consider that the 
General Assembly had special supervision of the 
'* Divinity Halls" in the Universities, we cannot but 
be struck by observing that the period during which 
the Faculties of Arts, Laws, and Medicine were 
developed in the University of Edinburgh brought 
no corresponding development to the Faculty of 
Divinity. A Chair of Ecclesiastical History had 
been added in 1702 (above, p. 231); after this matters 
remained in statu quo for nearly one hundred and 
fifty years, and the condition of the Divinity School 
of the University in the middle of the last century, 
as depicted by contemporary records, seems deplor- 
able. In the University programmes published in 
the Scots Magazine for 1741 the ''Professors of 
Divinity" were stated to be (i) **The Rev. Dr. 
William Wishart, Principal of the College and First 
Professor of Divinity." The latter title, however, 
was honorary ; the Principal did not lecture ; ** his 
chief business being to have the over-sight of the 
College ; to take an account of the proficiency of the 
students in Philosophy and the Languages ; to pre- 
side in University meetings ; and to confer all 
degrees." (2) **The Rev. Mr. John Gowdie, Pro- 


fessor of Divinity," who lectured "on Ben. Picteti 
Theologia Christiana and on some parts of the sacred 
text." (3) '*The Rev. Mr. Patrick Cuming, Pro- 
fessor of Church History," who gave lectures "on 
Jo. Alphonsi Turretini Compendium Historue 
Ecclesiastic^.'' The Professor of Hebrew in 1741 
did not advertise himself among the Professors of 
Divinity, but among the '* Professors of Arts and 
Sciences." He taught Leusden's Hebrew Grammar^ 
and '* analysed the Old Testament in Hebrew." 

Even if we reckon the Professor of Hebrew as 
belonging to the Faculty of Divinity, that gives us 
a Faculty of only three Chairs, as the Principal was 
only nominally a Professor. But attendance on two 
out of three of those classes was left optional to the 
Divinity Students. Thus Dr. Somerville, referring 
to the Hebrew class in 1759, when a very able man, 
Dr. Robertson, was Professor, says *} "When I was 
a student of divinity Hebrew was little cultivated, 
or altogether omitted, by the greater number of the 
theological students." And of the Church History 
class he says : ** Dr. Cuming, as required by the 
terms of his appointment, delivered a lecture once a 
week during four months of the Session, on Church 
History. Attendance at this class not being an in- 
dispensable qualification for probationary trials, few 
of the Divinity Students attended." Thus the only 
Theological teaching which was required in those 
days by the General Assembly, as a preparation for 
the Ministry, was that given in the Divinity Class of 

^ My Own Life and TimeSy p. 18. 


Professor Gowdie. Of its quality we may form a 
conception from the lively and irreverent remini- 
scences of "Jupiter" Carlyle. *'The Professor," says 
he, '' though said to be learned, was dull and tedious 
in his lectures, insomuch that at the end of seven 
years he had only lectured half through Pictet's 
Compend of Theology. There was one advantage 
attending the lectures of a dull professor — viz. that 
he could form no school, and the students were left 
entirely to themselves and naturally formed opinions 
far more liberal than those they got from the Pro- 
fessor. This was the answer I gave to Patrick Lord 
Elibank, one of the most ingenious and learned 
noblemen of his time, when he asked me one day, 
many years afterwards, what could be the reason 
that young clergymen of that period so far surpassed 
their predecessors of his early days in useful accom- 
plishments and liberality of mind — viz. that the Pro- 
fessor of Tlieology was dull and Dutch and prolix. 
His Lordship said he perfectly understood me, and 
that this entirely accounted for the change." Car- 
lyle adds : " In the following winter (November 
1 741) I attended the Divinity Hall at Edinburgh 
again for three or four months, and delivered 
a discourse De Fide Salvifcay a very improper 
subject for so young a student, which attracted no 
attention from any one but the Professor, who 
was pleased with it, as it resembled his own Dutch 

If torpid Professors of Divinity were a condition 
favourable to the production of clergymen of that 


type which "Jupiter" admired and represented — 
namely " Moderates," who were at the same time 
men of the world, and presentable in society — that 
condition was not permanent in the University of 
Edinburgh. Many earnest and some distinguished 
men held Chairs in the Faculty of Divinity down to 
1858. But any one can see that the system of edu- 
cation for the clergy in Scotland during last century 
was loose, and that the standard was low. To have 
left matters so was discreditable to the General 
Assembly ; it is difficult to conceive why they should 
never have returned to the educational ideas of the 
Reformers, or why the "Moderates" should not have 
perceived that learning in Theology is not neces- 
sarily connected with fanaticism. Graduation in 
Divinity should certainly have been introduced, but it 
was not, though honorary and complimentary titles of 
Doctor of Divinity were conferred from time to time, 
more or less deservedly, on various clergymen and 
divines. The first batch of these were three Noncon- 
formist clergymen from England ; Edmund Calamy, 
Daniel Williams, and Joshua Oldfield, who were 
made Doctors of Divinity by Carstares in 1709. 
Altogether one hundred and thirty-two degrees of 
this kind were conferred by the University of Edin- 
burgh during the eighteenth century. 

Very late in its history the Faculty of Divinity 
received an addition. This was in 1847, when a 
Commission from Queen Victoria erected a Chair of 
Biblical Criticism and Biblical Antiquities, " subject 

to the Laws and Regulations of the Church of Scot- 
VOL. I. z 


land," and appointed Dr. Robert Lee thereto. No 
endowment was attached to the Chair, but the Pro- 
fessor was to be provided for by being made a Dean 
of the Chapel-Royal. During previous negotiations 
the General Assembly had acquiesced in the found- 
ing of this Chair, on condition that no additional 
burden was to be thrown by it on the Divinity 
Students, that is to say, that there would be no fees, 
and that attendance on the Class would be volun- 

We have now traced the complete formation of 
the four Faculties of Arts, Laws, Medicine, and 
Divinity, from the beginning of the eighteenth cen- 
tury down to 1858. But during that period there 
were added to the University some other Chairs 
also, which, since the University has no Faculty of 
Science, were placed in the Faculty of Arts as the 
recognised asylum for nondescript Chairs. These 
were (A) Practical Astronomy (founded 1785) ; (B) 
Agriculture ( 1 790) ; (C) Music (1839); (D) Tech- 
nology (1855). 

(A) On the 25th September 1785 George III. 

^ On the presentation of this Commission the then Principal, Dr. 
John Lee, delivered a quasi-protest against it : Firsts on the ground 
that the Chair was unnecessary, its subjects being embraced in the 
teaching of the Professors of Hebrew and Church History. And, with 
great knowledge of the past, he descanted on " the lights thrown " on 
Biblical Criticism by various bygone Professors. But he said that 
the new Professor would be well received. Secondly^ he objected to a 
Chair founded without an endowment, pointing out that the Deanery 
fund was being constantly diminished by the augmentations of stipend 
for Parochial Ministers, so that the support for the Professorship (even 
if all future Professors of this subject were to be Deans) was precarious. 
This, however, was learned conservatism, and the Chair of Biblical 
Criticism has been, of course, a great gain to the University. 


signed a Commission creating a Chair of Practical 
Astronomy, in the following terms: — "Whereas 
We considering the great advantages which Navi- 
gation and the useful Arts derive from the cultiva- 
tion of Practical Astronomy and that it is of great 
importance in the education of youth, and especially 
of those who are destined for the naval line, 
that they be instructed in the principles and 
practice of Astronomical science, and that the insti- 
tution of a Professorship for these purposes in our 
University of Edinburgh will be a great improvement 
in the education there : — Therefore We have agreed 
with advice and consent of the Lord Chief Baron, 
and the other Barons of Exchequer in that part of 
the United Kingdom to erect and endow a Profes- 
sion in our said University of Edinburgh under the 
name of the ' Profession of Practical Astronomy.'" 
Then follows the appointment of Robert Blair, 
M.D., the first Professor, and a salary of ;^i2o^ from 
Bishops' rents is assigned to the Chair. This Pro- 
fessorship was probably instituted at the suggestion 
of the Town Council, its first object being, perhaps, 
to provide for the instruction of mates and skippers 
in the merchant service shipping from the port of 
Leith. But to perform this or any other function the 
Chair of Practical Astronomy absolutely failed. It 
was a coup manquk from the first, and its history has 

^ Professor Leslie, in his evidence before the Universities Conunis- 
sion of 1826, says of this salary : '^ It was intended to be the largest in 
the College, and I well know that the Professor expressed no small 
degree of disappointment on being told that the salary attached to 
the Chair of Law of Nature and Nations was much greater." 


been a curious one. The Government while pro- 
viding a liberal endowment (according to the ideas 
of those times) for the Professorship, declined to 
undertake the expense of furnishing the Professor 
with the necessary appliances for teaching. Dr. 
Blair presented his Commission to the Senatus early 
in 1786, but having no observatory or instruments 
at his disposal he was unable to open a class. Pro- 
fessor Wallace says of him in his evidence before 
the Commission of 1826 : " I have no doubt he would 
have executed most faithfully the duties of his office. 
At the time of his appointment he was a zealous 
student and cultivator of Astronomy and Optics ; but 
he could not carry his views into execution, because 
Government declined to erect an Observatory for the 
use of the University." 

Blair had been forty years " Professor of Practi- 
cal Astronomy " when the Royal Commission com- 
menced their sittings in Edinburgh ; and on their 
calling for a list of the Professors in the University 
they received one from which Blair's name was left 
out. When they inquired the reason of this, they 
were told : ** He has never attended any of our meet- 
ings ; he has not been in the University but once or 
twice for many years." Thus Blair not only did not 
teach, but he held himself aloof from the Senatus,* 

^ The University Records show that Dr. Robert Blair, from the 
first, after his induction into the Senatus in February 1786, absented 
himself from all their meetings. Even on the great occasion of laying 
the foundation-stone of the New Buildings, when almost all the other 
Professors were present, his name does not appear as having been 
with them. 


and took no part in their deliberations. The Senatus 
in return left him out of their lists. And it is curious 
that Bower, who brings down his History of the 
University to 1829, makes no mention of the foun- 
dation of the Chair of Practical Astronomy, nor of 
the first Professor of that subject. 

Dr. Robert Blair was not called upon to give 
evidence before the Commission ; he was then very 
old, and probably infirm, and he died while the Com- 
missioners were still sitting in 1828. They then 
reported : " Without an Observatory furnished with 
proper instruments, the class could not be usefully 
taught. The Professorship now being vacant, we 
humbly recommend that no nomination should be 
made for that class until a suitable Observatory, 
attached to the University, can be provided." In 
accordance with this advice the Chair of Practical 
Astronomy was kept vacant for four years, and 
during that time negotiations were carried on between 
the Government and the '' Astronomical Institution,*' 
a private society in Edinburgh, who had built an 
observatory^ on the Calton Hill, which, however, 
was not connected with the University. And on 
the I St October 1834 there came down a Commission 
of William IV. to Thomas Henderson, as Professor 
of Practical Astronomy, saying: ** Whereas an agree- 
ment has been concluded betwixt the Lords Com- 
missioners of our Treasury and the members of the 
Astronomical Institution of Edinburgh, whereby the 
latter have given the use of the Observatory at Edin- 

* See Appendix L. Edinburgh Observatory. 


burgh erected by them and the Instruments therein 
contained to the Professor of Practical Astronomy 
in the said University to be appointed by us ; — there- 
fore," etc., Henderson is appointed Professor "with 
all the rights and privileges belonging to any other 
Professor," but with no requirement to teach, or 
other mention of Professorial duties. And in the 
same Commission he is appointed Astronomer- Royal 
for Scotland, and required to " make Observations 
for the extension and improvement of Astronomy, 
Geography, and Navigation." He is to report these 
observations twice a year. *' And the said Thomas 
Henderson shall have an established salary of ;^300 
yearly." This salary was assigned to the conjoined 
offices of Professor of Practical Astronomy and 
Astronomer-Royal for Scotland. But by the terms 
of the Commission onerous and important duties 
were exacted from the Astronomer- Royal, while on 
the Professor no specified duties were imposed. 

Under these circumstances it is not surprising 
that Henderson became for ten years a zealous and 
devoted Observer, and indeed is said to have killed 
himself by hard work ; but on the other hand he so 
far followed the example of the sinecurist Blair as 
to give no lectures in the University. It has fre- 
quently happened that astronomers, absorbed in 
pursuing their nightly observations and daily calcula- 
tions, have evinced a repugnance to teaching, as 
being an interruption to what they consider their 
more serious work. On the death of Henderson in 
1846 the present Professor, Charles Piazzi Smyth, 


was appointed under a Commission from Queen 
Victoria in terms precisely similar to Henderson's 
Commission. For a few sessions he tried the experi- 
ment of giving a six months' course of lectures at 
the University, and had an attendance of some twelve 
Students. But he found the labour of preparing and 
delivering lectures by day, when he had to observe 
by night, too intolerable, and at the same time that 
small fruit seemed likely to result from the class, 
who were, for the most part, of an amateur char- 
acter. He therefore relinquished the attempt, and 
*' limited himself," as he states in the University 
Calendar y ** to receiving any matriculated applicants 
for Practical Astronomy, ascertaining in a friendly 
manner something of their calibre and objects, and 
then advising or assisting such gentlemen afterwards 
in their studies, at various periods through the Ses- 
sion." The Professor described to a Parliamentary 
Commission, appointed in 1876 to inquire into the 
state of the Royal Observatory at Edinburgh, his ex- 
periences of '* the calibre and objects " of those who 
applied to him. He said : ** One or two in the course 
of several years may be good students, in whose 
progress I should feel an interest ; but the majority 
are elderly gentlemen, who expect that if they take 
a ticket in the University they will acquire a right 
to send their families, their children and servants, 
up to the Observatory to be shown the stars through 
the telescopes there !" No doubt the Astronomer- 
Royal is right in keeping the profanum vulgits out 
of his ** Uranienburg,'* and it would perhaps be un- 


reasonable to expect him to give courses of lectures 
in the University. But after all, the Observatory, as 
well as the Professor of Practical Astronomy, belongs 
to the University. And it is probably the most 
desirable course that a few Students, with whose 
qualifications and objects the Professor is satisfied, 
should be received like apprentices to do practical 
work within the Observatory. This, however, would 
necessitate the enlargement, in fact the rebuilding, 
and the better equipment of the Observatory, as 
recommended by the above-mentioned Parliament- 
ary Commission. Such a consummation may be 
realised in the future. In the meantime it must be 
said that the Chair of Practical Astronomy, which 
has now been in existence nearly a hundred years, 
has contributed next to nothing to the educational 
resources of the University. 

(B) The Chair of Agriculture was the first 
Chair in the University of Edinburgh founded by 
a private benefactor, all the previous Professorships 
having been instituted either by the Town Council 
or by the Crown. In the middle of the eighteenth 
century Lord Karnes had stimulated Dr. Cullen to 
give some lectures on the Science of Agriculture ; 
and in 1 788 Dr. Walker, then Professor of Natural 
History, gave a much fuller course on the same 
subject. Bower thinks that this " suggested to Sir 
William Pulteney ^ the idea " of presenting a Chair 

^ Sir William Johnstone Pulteney is mentioned in Dr. Carlyle*s 
Autobiography as " Mr. Johnstone." He was sixth son of Sir James 
Johnstone of Westerhall, county Dumfries, and was born in 1729. In 
1760 he married the heiress of Daniel Pulteney (cousin of the Earl of 


of Agriculture to his old Alma Mater, the Uni- 
versity of Edinburgh. On the 7th July 1790 the 
"College Bailie" and another of the Magistrates 
came to the Senatus introducing " Dr. Andrew 
Coventry of Shanwell," and presenting a Commis- 
sion from *' William Pulteney Esq. of Solway Bank," 
appointing him to be Professor of Agriculture in the 
University. The Commission narrated that Mr. 
Pulteney had placed ;^i250 in the hands of the 
Town Council, who had given him a bond for it, 

Bath), who brought to him the princely fortune of the Pulteney family. 
Mr. Johnstone then took his wife's name, and called himself Johnstone- 
Pulteney. In 1794 he succeeded his elder brother, Sir James John- 
stone, who had died without issue, in the family baronetcy. He was 
thus " Mr. Johnstone Pulteney " when he founded the Chair. He died 
"one of the richest subjects in Britain," in 1805. Dr. Somerville says 
of him : " Sir William Pulteney's character has been misunderstood 
and undervalued by those to whom he was only known superficially, 
and who formed their opinion from the temper and habits he discovered 
in reference to his personal accommodation and household economy. 
His apparent expenditure was considered as shamefully penurious 
compared with the amplitude of his fortune, and his carefulness in 
personal and domestic expenses was so paltry and sordid as to become 
proverbial. But with all this narrowness, his beneficence — often volun- 
tary and unsolicited — surpassed the example of most of his contem- 
poraries who had acquired the greatest celebrity for the munificence 
and extent of their generosity. I was informed by Mr. Alison of the 
Excise Office, one of Sir William's confidential agents in works of 
charity, that after he became opulent he had always a large sum afloat 
in benevolent speculations. He ever showed an anxious attention to 
find out genius and talents languishing in circumstances of obscurity 
and neglect, that he might find the means of bringing them into 
notice. And he enjoyed the satisfaction of receiving the most pleasing 
testimonies of the personal gratitude of many of his protegees, after- 
wards celebrated for public services which were the fruits of the talents 
fostered and matured under his beneficent patronage. Sir William 
Pulteney sat in the House of Commons for several successive Parlia- 
ments, and acquired high reputation on account of his knowledge and 
attention to business. He never attached himself to any party, nor 
solicited or accepted any ministerial office." — Somerville's Life and 
TimeSi pp. 260-262. 


at four per cent interest, obliging themselves and 
successors to pay an annual salary of ;^50 to the 
Professor.^ Pulteney was to have the patronage 
of the Chair during his lifetime ; afterwards it was 
to be vested in three public bodies — the Judges of 
the Court of Session, the Town Council, and the 
Senatus. The Professor was to be bound to 
deliver " a set of Instructions or Lectures on 
the subject of Agriculture, respecting the nature 
of soils and manures ; the modes of cultivation ; 
the succession of crops ; the construction of imple- 
ments of husbandry ; the best and most successful 
known practices ; the manner of instituting experi- 
ments to ascertain the effect of any proposed practice 
in any soil or climate ; and the best manner of intro- 
ducing or training skilful labourers and country 
artificers, where these may be wanting." 

The presentation of this Commission produced 
even more than the usual number of protests. Firsty 
the College VtdX\% pro forma, protested against the 
rights of the Town Council being prejudiced by a 
private individual having founded a Chair. Secondly^ 
the Professor of Natural History protested that the 
new Chair was not to hinder him from teaching 

^ There is a letter extant from Pulteney to Professor Adam Fergu- 
son, dated 21st March 1789, which shows that he had declined to 
accede to a suggestion that he should make the endowment of the 
Chair more ample. He says : " I am not of Principal Robertson's 
opinion that it would be right to make the salary higher, because our 
object is to make it an object to the Professor to exert himself very 
much and by no means to make this a sinecure. If the Town could 
contrive to give him a habitation of any sort, however small, in the 
College, it would be a great point and would connect him more with 
the University." 


"any branch of Natural Science." Thirdly, the 
Professor of Botany protested against this last 
protest, — that the Professor of Natural History 
could not claim the right of teaching Botany. And 
fourthly. Dr. Andrew Coventry, the new Professor, 
protested against any one but himself giving "a 
separate course of Georgical lectures." After all 
this fencing, the Chair was inaugurated, and caused 
no manner of discord or difficulty in the University. 
It was perhaps the first Chair of Agriculture that 
had been introduced into any University. 

Dr. Andrew Coventry, after holding the Chair 
for thirty-six years, gave evidence before the Com- 
mission of 1826. And he came very well out of 
the ordeal : he had delivered thirty -two courses, 
some of them consisting of more than one hundred 
and forty lectures each. His classes had ranged in 
number of Students from seventy-eight as a maxi- 
mum to thirty as a minimum ; and this, in regard 
to a subject not available for either graduation or 
ordination, must be considered a success. His 
lectures had been attended by the sons of practical 
farmers. Writers who had the management of estates. 
Divinity Students, and others. From the Divinity 
Students he never exacted a fee. He had other 
avocations, and was frequently called to London as 
a witness before Parliamentary Committees, and for 
this reason he had " of late years " taken to lecture 
only in alternate winters, persuading persons who 
wished to attend him during any session when he 
was to be absent to put off doing so, and attend the 


classes of Chemistry and Botany in the meantime. 
After this statement of matters it seems rather sur- 
prising that the Royal Commission of 1826-30 should 
have recommended that the Chair of Agriculture 
should be abolished, "unless a class could be pro- 
vided for it, and taught regularly." But that Com- 
mission, as will be shown subsequently, though very 
able and zealous, were sometimes too sudden and 
drastic in their recommendations, as indeed Commis- 
sions who have only to report, without the responsi- 
bility of carrying measures into effect, are apt to 

(C) The Chair of Music was also a private 
foundation, and its institution was connected with 
circumstances most important in the history of the 
University. ** General John Reid," says Bower 
(iii. 368), "of Woodstock Street, Oxford Street, 
London, was a native of Perthshire, and educated 
at the University of Edinburgh. He entered the 
army very early in life, and continued in it upwards 
of sixty years. He was a General in His Majesty's 
army, and Colonel of the 88th Regiment of foot, and 
had seen a good deal of service both in Europe and 
America, where he possessed extensive estates, which 
were forfeited during the unfortunate contest with 
the colonies." General Reid^ had one daughter, 
who was married to a Dr. Stark Robertson. But 
it would seem that this marriage had not been 
pleasing to the General, for in 1803 he made a 
Will, leaving the liferent of his property to his 

^ See Appendix M. GENERAL Reid. 


i8o3.] GENERAL REID'S WILL. 349 

daughter, but expressly ordering that the interest 
of his estate was to be paid into her hands alone, 
and not to be subject to the debts, control, or dis- 
position of her husband. On her death the property 
was to go to her children, if she had any, in specified 
proportions, but on the express condition that each 
one of them benefiting by the estate was to take the 
name of Reid. Failing issue to his daughter, Reid 
devised — " it being my wish and desire that the said 
John Stark Robertson shall not inherit or possess 
any part of my property " — that (with the exception 
of a few legacies) the bulk of the estate should be 
applied, in the first place, in "establishing and 
endowing a Professorship of Music in the College 
and University of Edinburgh, where I had my 
education and passed the pleasantest part of my 
youth ;" and, in the next place, " in making additions 
to the Library of the said University, or otherwise in 
promoting the interest and advantage of the Uni- 
versity, in such way as the Principal and Professors 
thereof for the time being shall in their discretion 
think most right and proper." He directs his 
trustees in that case to apportion a fund for " the 
endowment and maintenance in all time coming in 
the said University of a Professor of the Theory of 
Music, an art and science in which the Scots stand 
unrivalled by all the neighbouring nations in pastoral 
melody and sweet combination of sounds." The 
salary of such Professor ** not being less than jC 300 
of good and lawful money of Great Britain." And 
the residue of his estate is to be made over to the 


Principal and Professors of the said University for the 
purposes aforesaid. He concludes by saying : " And 
as I am the last representative of an old family in 
Perthshire, which on my death will be extinct in 
the male line, I therefore leave two portraits of me, 
one when a Lieutenant in the Earl of Loudoun's 
regiment, raised in 1 745 ; and the other when a 
Major-General in the army, to the Principal and 
Professors of the said University of Edinburgh, to 
be disposed of in such a manner as the Principal 
shall direct ; and to that University I wish prosperity 
to the end of time." 

The Will containing these quaint and pleasing 
terms was signed in 1803. Three years later, when 
there was apparently no prospect of a family to 
Mrs. Stark Robertson, Reid added a codicil to it, 
giving more specific instructions as to a particular 
duty to be performed by his Professor of Music, as 
follows : ** After the decease of my daughter Susanna 
Robertson, she dying without issue, I have left all 
my property in the Funds, or in Great Britain, to 
the College of Edinburgh, where I had my educa- 
tion, as will be found more particularly expressed in 
my Will ; and as I leave all my music-books (parti- 
cularly those of my own composition) to the Professor 
of Music in that College, it is my wish that in every 
year after his appointment, he will cause a Concert 
of Music to be performed on the 13th of February, 
being my birthday, in which shall be introduced one 
Solo for the German Flute, Hautboy, or Clarionet ; 
also one March and Minuet, with accompaniments 


by a select Band, in order to show the taste of Music 
about the middle of last century, when they were 
by me composed, and with a view also to keep my 
memory in remembrance ; the expense attending 
the Concert to be defrayed from the general fund 
left by me to the College, and not from the salary 
to be paid to the Professor of Music, from which 
there is not to be any diminution." 

The good General died in 1 807 ; and his Solici- 
tors, in forwarding a copy of the Will and Codicil to 
the Senatus, seemed to consider it almost certain 
that the residuary legacy would come to the 
Principal and Professors of the University, to whom 
it had been devised. They enclosed an estimate of 
what it would amount to — namely, ;^52,ii4. 

Such was the Reid Bequest, which was not 
only a compliment to the University, but also gave 
the Senatus Academicus very great strength and 
encouragement, by assuring to them the ultimate 
possession of an independent fund to be at their 
own disposal, for " promoting the interest or advan- 
tage of the University." Mrs. Stark Robertson, 

" Like to a stepdame or a dowager 

Long withering out a young man's revenue," 

kept them very long out of their reversion. In 
18 19 the Senatus, representing to some of the 
Edinburgh banks that Mrs. Robertson was sixty 
years old and childless, obtained from them a loan 
of ;^3000, on the security of the bequest, for the 
purchase of a collection in Natural History for the 


University Museum. But Mrs. Robertson lived 
nineteen years more after that, and it was not till 
1838 that news came of her death in Paris, at the 
age of seventy-nine. The trustees, Mr. George 
Kinloch, Mr. E. Marjoribanks, and Sir Edward 
Antrobus, at once decided that they could not take 
the responsibility of parting with the estate without 
an order of Chancery. They therefore paid the 
money into Chancery, and invited the Senatus to an 
amicable suit. In 1839, under an order of the Court 
of Chancery, General Reid's Trustees proceeded to 
appoint Mr. John Thomson as first Professor of the 
Theory of Music,^ whom they had chosen from a 
list of several candidates, being satisfied of his pro- 
fessional attainments and private character. The 
appointment was quite in accordance with the wishes 
of the Senatus, Mr. Thomson being the son-in-law 
of Dr. John Lee, who next year became Principal; 
after it was made, the trustees had no other duty 
left but to hand over to the Senatus the residuary 
estate, under General Reid's Will, which was then 
declared to amount to ;^ 73,000, or thereabouts. 
The history of the Reid Fund, and its disposal by 
the Senatus, and the law-suits it gave rise to, wiD 
fall to be treated of elsewhere; we are only here 
concerned with the institution of the Chair of Music 
The Town Council, following the suggestions of the 
Senatus, laid down that the first and all subsequent 
Professors of the Theory of Music should be bound 

* This title was given by order of the Town Council, who passed 
an Act establishing the Chair. 


to give courses of public lectures comprehending , 
"the phenomena and philosophy of Sound in so 
far as connected with musical intonation ; the laws 
of Harmonies, with their application to the Theory 
of Music ; the explanation not only of the ordinary 
rules of Thorough Bass, but also a clear exposition 
of methodical composition in double, triple, and 
quadruple Counterpoint; and the practical applica- 
tion of all the principles and doctrines appertaining 
to the Science. Further, that joined with these 
discussions the Professor shall exhibit the History of 
the Science, with a critical analysis of the works of 
all the classical masters, ancient as well as modern, 
and such improvements as the progress of the 
Science may from time to time suggest." Such 
was the comprehensive programme of teaching laid 
down for the Professors of the Theory of Music, 
but it may be doubted whether it has ever been 
completely realised. There were many difficulties 
in the way: the first Professor died after a short 
tenure of office, and some of his successors had an 
equally short incumbency ; the demand for lectures 
of the kind prescribed would be limited by the 
number of Students intending to take to Music as a 
profession; and the class-room provided for this 
department was so incommodious that in 1846 the 
Professor reported that it was not in a condition to 
allow him to deliver lectures, as the cold and damp 
were felt by the Students, and were injurious to his 
instruments. It was not till 1858 that the founda- 
tion-stone of the present Music class-room was laid. 

VOL. I. 2 A 


Further details relating to this Chair will be given 
in connection with the biographies of the different 
Professors, and with the history of the Reid Fund. 
It may be sufficient here to mention that the Reid 
Concert, after being at first held in a small way, and 
giving rise to many heartburnings as to the distri- 
bution of tickets, has for a long series of years been 
conducted on a splendid scale, and has not only 
celebrated with the greatest honour the birthday of 
General Reid, but has come to be the nucleus of a 
Musical Festival for Edinburgh, and has thus done 
much to develop musical taste in the city. At the 
same time the Chair has been used not only for the 
instruction of the few Students wishing to become 
professional musicians, but also for the training of 
large choruses of all classes of the Students ; and 
this has exercised a very humanising influence. 
Besides all this the Chair of the Theory of Music 
probably still possesses unrealised potentialities of 
usefulness, which remain among the "un-called up 
capital*' of the University of Edinburgh. 

(D) The Chair of Technology arose out of a 
movement made by the Senatus in 1852 to transfer 
the rich Natural History collections which had been 
amassed by Professor Jameson, and which were 
acknowledged to be "second only to those of the 
British Museum," to the nation. These collections 
had outgrown the Museum completed for them in 
1820 on the west side of the University Buildings; 
and it was proposed that the Government should 
take them over and place them in a National 


Museum, which should still be an addition to and 
an integral part of the University. This offer was 
accepted by the Government, and in 1854 Mr. Lyon 
Playfair, writing as an official of the Board of Trade, 
proposed to the Town Council and the Senatus a 
scheme for the creating of a National Museum on 
the site of the Independent Chapel and the Mer- 
chant Maidens' Hospital to the west of the College ; 
this Museum to be one of Natural History and 
Technology. The Senatus were to make over their 
Natural History collections, the Professor of Natural 
History being still Regius Keeper of them, and 
retaining the use of the specimens for teaching; 
while a separate Keeper of the Technological side 
would be appointed. This gave rise to the ** In- 
dustrial Museum,*' or, as it is now called, "The 
Museum of Science and Art," in Edinburgh, the 
foundation-stone of which was laid by Prince Albert 
—one of the last public acts of his life — in i860. 
But in the meantime a Chair of Technology had 
been founded in 1855 ^V ^^^ Commission of Queen 
Victoria to George Wilson. 

The Commission stated that it had been thought 
proper to appoint a Regius Professor of " Techno- 
logy in the University of Edinburgh," and "that 
the Director of the Industrial Museum in Scotland 
should he ex Oj^cto Professor of Technology therein." 
This might seem a curious way of putting it, for the 
Industrial Museum at the date of the Commission 
had not yet come into existence, and it would there- 
fore appear more appropriate to have said that the 


Regius Professor of Technology in the University 
was to be ex officio Director of the Industrial- 
Museum. But the officials of the Home Office 
knew what they were about in drawing the Com- 
mission. They did not wish to give the University 
a perpetual title to the direction of the Museum. 
At the outset the scheme agreed upon seemed most 
favourable, and indeed flattering to the University ; 
the University collections were to be taken over, 
and maintained at the national expense in a building 
adjacent to, and considered as an integral part of 
the University Buildings, and the Museum thus 
constituted was to be under the management of 
two University Professors — the Professor of Natural 
History, and the Professor of Technology, who, in 
addition to the care of his own department, was to 
have the general direction of the whole institution. 
But probably from the first, this arrangement was 
not intended to be permanent; it was too much 
opposed to the centralising instincts of the London 
bureaucracy. Therefore Dr. George Wilson was 
appointed Regius Professor of Technology " during 
the Queen*s pleasure," and " subject to any regula- 
tions in regard to the said Professorship," which 
might be approved by the Home Secretary, and 
also to any regulations which might be made " from 
time to time in respect of the said Industrial 
Museum." What was intended, or kept in reserve, 
by these terms, came to light more quickly than the 
Government officials could have anticipated. For 
George Wilson was one 


" Within whose delicate being, 
Like light and wind within a summer cloud, 
Genius and death contended/' 

And within four years after his appointment his 
brief and brilliant career terminated. On this the 
Government immediately suppressed the Chair of 
Technology in the University, and appointed an 
official of their own choosing to be Director of the 
Museum. Following up the thoughts which arise 
on this subject, we may say here that from first to 
last the University has been to a considerable extent 
beguiled in the matter of the Museum. In 1852 the 
University possessed Natural History collections 
"second only to those of the British Museum," and 
also a space of ground to the west expressly purchased 
with the object of securing free light to her buildings 
from that side. The collections were taken away, 
and the ground was built over for the Museum, so 
that the west side of the University quadrangle is 
rendered nearly useless. She was to administer the 
new Museum by means of her Professors of Tech- 
nology and Natural History ; but the Professor of 
Technology was promptly suppressed, and in course 
of time the official Director of the Museum succeeded 
in playing the cuckoo to the Professor of Natural 
History, and in ousting him from his function of 
Regius Keeper of the Natural History collections. 
At length it went so far that even the free use of 
specimens from the Museum for the teaching of 
the Natural History class was denied. And thus 
the physical connection of the " Bridge of Sighs " 


which joins the two buildings of the University and 
the Museum, now chiefly serves the purpose of being 
a record of broken pledges. 

Assuredly it was not owing to any want of 
capacity or want of success on the part of the first 
Professor of Technology that the Chair was 
abolished, and the University deprived of the 
Directorship of the Museum. George Wilson had 
at first very unfavourable circumstances to contend 
with. The Museum had not yet been built, or even 
begun, and the specimens intended for it were placed 
temporarily in the Independent Chapel in what was 
then Argyle Square and in the Merchant Maidens 
Hospital adjoining. But Wilson's zeal in his office 
of Director knew no bounds, " I am determined," 
he said, " to let no day pass without doing something 
for my dear Museum." He begged for it throughout 
the world, and in four years he added to its collec- 
tions more than ten thousand objects. In his 
inaugural address as Professor he told the Students: 
"With the Industrial Museum, this Chair stands in 
organic connection. My office, as Professor of 
Technology, is to be interpreter of the significance 
of that Museum, and expositor of its value to you, 
the Students of this University.*' And he concluded 
by saying : " Let me commend this new Chair to 
your good will and kindly aid. With its associated 
Industrial Museum, it constitutes a great additional 
centre of Knowledge, from which light will spread 
over this land and over the world. I can but sow 
the seed. I have sown it to-day ; I am honoured 


to do thus much ; but the prediction, true in refer- 
ence to all matters, is that ' one soweth and another 
reapeth/ " 

Wilson could not obtain a class-room within the 
University walls till just before his own death in 
1859,^ and he had to lecture in an inconvenient 
room outside, but, in spite of all drawbacks, above 
forty persons attended his first course. His entire 
syllabus of lectures extended over three years ; the 
first year's course being devoted to Mineral, the 
second to Vegetable, and the third to Animal Tech- 
nology. George Wilson defined Technology as 
*' Science in its application to the useful Arts," and 
on another occasion as ** the sum or complement of 
all the sciences which either are, or may be made 
applicable to the industrial labours or utilitarian 
necessities of man." His first course included lec- 
tures on Fuel, Building Materials of Mineral origin. 
Glass and Glass making, Pottery, Metallo-techny, 
Electro-techny, and Magneto-techny. Under the 
latter heads were comprised the working of metals, 
and what was then known of Electrical Engineering. 

Such a field demanded an acquaintance with the 
secrets of all trades, and, in short, an aptitude for 
universal knowledge, which George Wilson to an 
extraordinary degree possessed. His mode of ex- 
position was also eminently lucid and attractive, and 
drew to him an audience, not of candidates for 

* When the Professor of Music made way for him by moving out 
into the newly-built Music class-room of which some account is else- 
where given. 


d^^ees, but of persons desiring practical information 
for the needs of life. In his third session he wrote 
to a friend : " Students abound this winter, especi- 
ally juniors. I think myself well off with thirty-five. 
My class is a very pleasant one. An Indian 
General, an Artillery Lieutenant who lost a bit of 
his skull (but certainly none of his brains) at 
Lucknow, an Engineer Officer, four Indian Sur- 
geons, a Navy Surgeon, a W.S., several young 
Ministers, and a wind up of Farmers, Tanners, etc." 
In November 1859, a few weeks before his death, 
he enrolled a class which had increased to the 
number of eighty-five. 

George Wilson was an exceptional man, and it 
may be doubted whether a successor to him could 
have been found possessing all his qualifications. 
Still the inauguration of a Chair of Technology under 
him had been a manifest success, and it had been 
shown that such a Chair contained possibilities of 
great usefulness. We see now how extremely 
useful and important would be the existence at the 
present time of a Chair, part of the province of 
which would be to expound all the recent develop- 
ments of Electrical Engineering. All such possi- 
bilities, however, were stamped out by the suppression 
of the Chair of Technology on the death of George 
Wilson. The Government of that day were no 
doubt only too eager to transfer the direction of the 
Museum from the University of Edinburgh to the 
South Kensington Department of Science and Art. 
But it must be admitted that the Senatus Academ- 


icus, With great short-sightedness, played into their 
hands. The Professors of Chemistry, Botany, and 
Natural History, each saw a rival in the Professor 
of Technology, and they got the Senatus to repre- 
sent to Government that it would be better, instead 
of seeking for a new Professor of all the useful Arts, 
to allow each of the Professors named to lecture 
separately within the Museum on subjects connected 
with his own department. The pretext served its 
purpose, but no substitute was ever really provided 
for the Chair of Technology. 

Appendix I. Alexander CunninghAxM, 

In the sign-manual of Queen Anne (1707), which created Charles 
Areskine " Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and 
Nations," it was added that this appointment was to be " without 
prejudice to Mr. Alexander Cunningham who is already nomin- 
ated Professor of the Civil Law by Act of Parliament" As above 
stated, Alexander Cunningham was never a Professor in the 
College of Edinburgh, though he appears to have been appointed 
Regent of Humanity in 1769, and of Philosophy in 1689. 

He was a man of great ability, and so profound a Latin 
scholar that he even entered the lists with some success 
against the great Bentley. He became tutor in the family of the 
Duke of Queensberry, and, supported by the influence of that 
family, he petitioned the Scots Parliament in 1698 for an allow- 
ance of ;^ 2 00 sterling a year for six years to enable him to carry 
to completion a work in four volumes folio upon the Civil I-aw. 
The two first volumes were to contain the "text of the Pan- 
dects accurately settled, with notes upon two thousand passages 
requiring elucidation"; the third volume was to contain the 
" Reconciliations of Opposite Laws ;" and the fourth " a System 
of the Digests by way of principles and consequences." 


Cunningham, with modest assurance, " judged it his duty " to 
offer this work " to his own country," thereby giving the Parlia- 
ment to understand that if they declined to encourage him he 
would go elsewhere. The "Committee for Security of the 
Kingdom " were desired to report upon the application ; which 
they did by recommending that the " imposition on the tunnage 
of shipping" should be burdened with ;^i5o sterling, "to be 
paid to the petitioner as a yearly fee and salary as Professor of 
the Civil Law in this Kingdom." They also advised that the 
petitioner should be allowed to go abroad to qualify himself 
further for carrying on the work. It seems clear that the title of 
" Professor of Civil Law in Scotland " was invented merely with 
the object of serving as an item in the Treasury accounts. The 
" salary " of a National Professor would look less irregular than a 
yearly grant to an individual to aid him in writing a book. 
Cunningham was never meant to teach Civil Law, and he never 
did. By Stat, 1698, a 37, entitled **an Act anent the Tunnage," 
the impost was burdened inter alia with ;£'i5o sterling, "as the 
yearly fee and salary " for five years " granted to Mr. Alexander 
Cunningham, as Professor of the Civil Law, nominate and 
designed to that profession." And by Stat, 1704, c. 9, this 
grant was renewed for five years more ; in the prelude to this 
last Act the purpose was specified of " maintaining a Professor 
of Law at Edinburgh." 

It is doubtful, however, whether the allowance from the 
tonnage dues was ever received by Cunningham, as prior claims 
upon the dues appear to have exhausted them. Cunningham, 
enjoying a small patrimonial estate, named Block, in Ayrshire, 
and also a pension from the Queensberry family, retired to a 
life of literature at the Hague, where he collected a valuable 
library. Perhaps on account of not receiving the subsidy which 
had been voted for his edition of the Pandects^ he was less per- 
severing than he might otherwise have been with that work, 
which was never completed. Cunningham went off into fields 
of lighter literature, and in 1 7 2 1 brought out his Animadvcrsiofus 
on Bentley's ^^^;r^^^/ also his own edition of Horace; and 
twenty years later an edition of Virgil. And he won for himself 
the reputation of being the best chess-player in Europe. 

1720-1763.] GEORGE DRUMMOND. 363 

Appendix J. George Drummond, 

It would be difficult to over-estimate what Edinburgh owes to 
George Drummond When he began to have influence in the 
Town Council this city had recently ceased to be the seat of the 
Scottish Parliament, and therefore was also rapidly ceasing to be a 
place of residence for the Scottish nobility. It was sinking into 
the condition of a small superseded capital, or, in fact, of a pro- 
vincial town, when the genius of Drummond intervened, and by 
working out a series of great ideas, led the way to the production 
of the Edinburgh of the present day out of the squalid (though 
picturesque) " Good Town " of the past. 

Drummond's first great service was the development of the 
Medical School of the University, and connected with this the 
foundation of the Royal Infirmary, which was opened in 1741. 
A few years later proposals, signed by him as Lord Provost, were 
circulated through the country, calling upon all Scotsmen to con- 
tribute to the improvement of their metropolis. These proposals 
included the building of the Royal Exchange, of the City 
Chambers, of new Courts of Justice, and of better apartments 
for the Advocates' Library. At the same time a petition to Par- 
liament was proposed for an extension of the royalty of the town 
both to the north and to the south, with a view to the building 
of the North and South Bridges, the formation of the New Town 
of Edinburgh, and the addition of new streets and squares to the 
south. This was in its entirety a great and bold conception, and 
George Drummond lived to see considerable instalments of it 
completed. Since his death the rest has been accomplished 
quite in accordance with his ideas, but in a manner and to an 
extent which would surprise him if he could now revisit Edin- 
burgh, for which he did so much. In 1753, as Grand Master 
of the Freemasons in Scotland, he laid the foundation of the 
Royal Exchange; and in 1763, when Lord Provost for the sixth 
time, he laid the foundation-stone of the North Bridge. 

George Drummond was eldest son of John Drummond, 
"Factor" in Edinburgh, and was born on the 27th June 1687. 
He does not appear to have graduated at the University, but is 
said to have been educated " in the schools of Edinburgh," and 
to have got an early reputation for skill in arithmetic, which led 


to his being employed when only eighteen years old by the Com- 
mittee of the Scottish Parliament for settlement of the National 
accounts, preparatory to the Union with England, to make most 
of their calculations for them. He did such good service in this 
capacity that he was selected as accountant to the Excise Office 
in 1707. In 1 7 17 he was appointed one of the Commissioners 
of Customs, and also was elected City Treasurer. In 1725-26 
(the year of the establishment of the Medical Faculty in the 
University) he was Lord Provost for the first time. 

We pass over George Dnimmond's services in 17 15 and 1745 
to the Hanoverian dynasty. It is not necessary here to write 
his biography. The chief object of this Appendix is to mention 
a ver}^ curious source of information about him which exists in 
the University Library. This is a portion of the Diary which 
George Drummond kept with scrupulous care for several years. 
The earlier portion of the Diary is lost, but we possess two folio 
volumes of manuscript,^ written in a beautiful hand : the first 
volume beginning in the middle of the year 1736 and going to 
the end of 1737 ; the second volume beginning with the ist Jan- 
uary and ending with the 25th November 1738. At this last 
date the Diary abruptly stops, not, however, without furnishing 
a peculiar but very sufficient reason for its discontinuance. 

At the period recorded in the Diary George Drummond had 
been already twice married: Firsty in 1707, to Mary Campbell 
of Burnbank, who died in 1 7 1 8, and by whom he had five chil- 
dren : Secondly^ in 1721, to Catherine Campbell (daughter of Sir 
James Campbell of Aberuchil), who died in 1732, and by whom 
he had nine children. It may be inferred from passages in the 
Diary that shortly after the death of his second wife, when he 
was in his forty-fifth year, George Drummond became attached, 
and, in fact, engaged, to another lady, whose name is not known, 
but whose initials were R. B. Want of pecuniary resources pre- 
vented their union, and their relation to each other assumed the 
character of a platonic, or rather spiritual, friendship. On the 
20th September 1736 he blesses "the Lord for choosing such a 
partner and in that character giving " him " so valuable a friend 

1 These volumes were picked up somewhere by Principal Lee, and were 
much prized by him. At the sale of his library they came into the possession 
of the University. 


as R. B." And in 1738 he writes: "The Lord having pointed 
out R. B. as my partner, and making it utterly unreasonable for 
us to think of uniting now, might create great uneasiness. But, 
blessed be God, he has heard prayer and answered it with respect 
to this ; for I see her every day and we converse together in a 
holy innocence ; so it has been for two years past" 

The Diary shows George Drummond to have been a man of 
deep and sincere religious feeling, after the " evangelical " type, 
and he employs the " evangelical " phraseology in writing. In 
1736 he says: "It wants but a few months of thirty-two years 
since He engaged me in His service ;" in other words, Drummond 
dates his " conversion " from the eighteenth year of his age. We 
know not when the Diary first commenced, though there is an 
allusion to an entry made in it in 1734. But it seems not 
improbable that it took its origin out of George Drummond's 
relations with *' R. B.," and from their agreeing to record and 
interchange their spiritual experiences. Not only did George 
Drummond daily register, as one might register a barometer, the 
rise or fall of his own devotional feelings in family or private 
worship, but the remarkable thing is that he, the City Treasurer, 
Commissioner of Customs, Member of the Board of Manufactures, 
and busy at that time with the promotion of the Infirmary, went 
through the labour of transcribing "R. B.'s" Diary, and incorpor- 
ating it into his own. So that about two hundred and fifty large folio 
pages, in these volumes, are filled with the " confessions '* of that 
lady in the small exquisite handwriting of George Drummond. 

There is a slight psychological interest attaching to these re- 
cords, but it soon vanishes, owing to the great sameness in them. 
On the whole, one cannot wonder that George Drummond's feelings 
towards "R. B." should have cooled down to the platonic tem- 
perature. She had very delicate health, and the details of her 
maladies, which she gives, were hardly suitable for the inspection 
of a lover ; she was evidently of a nervous, and, indeed, hysterical, 
dbposition. She believed, and for the matter of that Drummond 
believed it too, that she had direct personal communication with 
the Deity. In her Diary she is repeatedly telling how " the Lord 
has suJSered her to lie at his feet wrestling for G. D." And she 
goes straight to work to ask "the Lord" the most practical 
questions, such as whether " G. D. " shall take tickets in the 


Thames Bridge lottery, or whether his salary in the Customs is 
going to be reduced She had a great verbal knowledge of the 
Authorised Version of the Bible, and a repertory of texts equal to 
that shown by John Bunyan in the PilgrinCs Progress, When 
an encouraging text came into her head in answer to one of her 
inquiries she hysterically took it as the external and direct voice 
of God speaking to her, or, if she did not really do so, she was 
a mere vulgar impostor. But the curious thing is that the 
sagacious George Drummond accepted her ravings as real revela- 
tions, and treated her as a spiritual medium between himself and 
God ; so that when some of the promises thus made to him were 
not realised he half grumbled at the Deity, and only reconciled 
himself to the dispensation by reflecting that there must be 
something about it which he did not understand 

Some of " R. B.'s " ecstasies are very nauseous ; the following 
is a sample. " I sought the Lord to Mrs. C, who, J. P. tells 
me, has taken up a new pet at me, for what I do not know, but 
she will not come where I am ; — and He answered, * I will speak 
more fully to you about all her concerns than ever ; and I will 
make her acknowledge that she has wronged you.' Then I said, 
* O keep all this for me,' and He answered, * I will keep it, and I 
will speak more to you than ever. I will again draw aside the 
veil and give you a more full discovery of my love than ever you 
have got. Arise my Love, my fair one, and come away. Thou 
art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.'" But other experi- 
ences of hers were not of so encouraging a character. She fre- 
quently has entries like the following : "The Enemy so molested 
me by making noise in the room all night, that I concluded it 
would be my last ; sometimes he tossed the chairs and sometimes 
pulled the clothes off me. The flood of unbecoming thoughts of 
God which he darted into my soul, almost distracted me. Both 
body and soul were on the rack the whole day." This medley 
of ecstatic and abysmal utterances — from which "G. D." himself 
is never long left out — George Drummond, honest man, patiently 
and sympathetically copies out, and indeed calls this work of 
transcription his " favourite employment." It was all no doubt 
flattering and soothing to him, and " R. B.," as his innamorata 
and friend, had a great and sincere interest in his affairs, which 
at that time wore the gloomiest aspect. 


In one of the earliest entries, in the midst of his religious 
chronicling, he says : " I met with several shocking duns in my 
outward affairs to-day." And at the beginning of 1738 he records : 
" For almost eighteen years past I have evidently seen the Lord 
blasting every attempt I made for relief, however much they pro- 
mised towards it at their setting out. All attempts of that kind 
since the 1720, have hurt my circumstances instead of better- 
ing them." This evidently refers to unsuccessful speculations, 
which had brought him into pecuniary embarrassment As 
Commissioner of Customs he had received, since 1 7 1 7, a salary 
of ;£^iooo a year, which was an extremely handsome income in 
those days; but towards the close of 1737 he was so much 
pressed that he writes : " The Lord provided a way for me to-day 
to pay off my servants and put my sons to their colleges and 
schools. I bless him for it." Not only was he himself involved, 
but many of his relatives were in the same condition. The affairs 
of his father-in-law. Sir James Campbell, form a constant theme 
in the Diaries both of George Drummond and of " R. B.," and 
the sale of the estate of Aberuchil is recorded. At least two of 
his grown-up sons were in pecuniary difficulties, and other near 
relations were in the same plight The whole of George Drum- 
mond's Diary for 1738 is one continuous wail, interspersed with 
comforting, but fallacious, promises made by "the Lord" to 
"R. B." 

Matters looked especially bad at the beginning of the year, 
for in October 1737 the Government had determined to reduce 
the Commissioners of Customs from seven to five. And George 
Dnmimond and Sir James Campbell were the two who lost their 
appointments. Drummond fancied that this was from a personal 
enmity entertained towards himself, on account of his religious 
opinions, by the Earl of Islay. But what was done seems, in 
reality, to have been an act of kindness to himself. For early in 
1738 he was made Commissioner of Excise, and his salary was 
made payable from the date of his dismissal from the Customs, 
while those who remained Commissioners of Customs had their 
salaries cut down from ;^iooo to ;^5oo a year. The Commis- 
sionership of Excise restored to him ample means for supporting 
his family, but not for clearing him of the difficulties in which 
he and those belonging to him had become involved. This, 


however, was effected for him, as the mouse released the lion 
from his net, by one Mrs. Fenton, the widow of " My old friend. 
Bailie Fenton ;" of whom he writes on the iSth October 1738 : 
" She told me she had been providing a wife for me, — a widow, 
with an estate large enough to relieve me out of my distresses." 
This communication threw the simple-hearted George Drunimond 
into great perplexity, for he considered that *'the Lord had 
pointed out another partner " to him ; and anyhow he " dared 
not make one step towards deliverance, either in this way or any 
other, unless the Lord should open his way." 

The next day he loyally communicated to "R. R" what Mrs. 
Fenton had been saying to him, and " told R. B. all he thought 
about it" But he does not record what that unfortunate lady 
had to say on the subject On the whole, we must conjecture, 
to her honour, that she sacrificed herself and did not dissuade 
George Drummond from forming another alliance, else it seems 
certain that he would have given up the idea. Six days later he 
writes that he " found the Enemy at work to set this marriage 
affair before him in an agreeable light" And he only endeavours 
to dismiss the suggestion by saying : " I know nothing about the 
woman at all, and how ridiculous would it be for me, in this 
situation of the thing, to give it a thought" A month afterwards, 
however, Mrs. Fenton used an argument which was likely to be 
efficacious with George Drummond, for she declared that in 
answer to prayer " it was said to her, * What do you know if this 
woman's money is not given her to be a blessing to him ; and if 
he is not to be a blessing to her by being the means of her con- 
version?'" A meeting was now arranged between the parties, 
and on the 23d November Drummond writes : " I saw the 
woman at Mrs. Fenton's. There's nothing disagreeable either in 
her manner or person." Two days afterwards he writes once 
more of his overwhelming troubles, and adds : " It's mercy that 
under all this I feel no rancour of mind against the Lord and 
his way, and though this marriage would probably relieve me 
out of these distresses, yet, however desirable that would be, upon 
looking into my heart I find that I dare not make one step in it 
till I can see the Lord calling me to it." This is the last entry; 
the Diary now breaks off on the 25th November 1738, and two- 
thirds of the pages in the huge folio before us remain blank. 

1756.] GEORGE DRUMMOND. 369 

George Drummond does not record the process by which he 
became assured that the " Lord was calling " him to make an 
advantageous marriage. But we learn from other sources that in 
January 1739 he married Mrs. Hannah Parson or Livingstone, 
widow of Major Livingstone. And so, if the year 1738 began 
for George Drummond with Hilas f Helas ! the year 1739 may 
be said to have begun with A-haf A-haf^ It is no wonder if 
at this point he discontinued the joint-stock diary with " R. B.,*' 
and gave up keeping for himself what, after all, was a somewhat 
morbid record. 

By his third marriage Drummond had no children, and Mrs. 
Livingstone only lived for three years after marrying him. She 
died in February 1742. Thirteen years later, when he was in 
his sixty-eighth year, George Drummond took to himself another 
rich wife ; she was the widow of Joseph Green, of the parish of 
St Dunstan, Stepney, County Middlesex, who had left her up- 
wards of ;£^2 0,000. The peculiarity was that she was a Quakeress, 
and that in the Diary for 1738 Drummond had recorded senti- 
ments about the Quakers which he must have modified before 
entering into matrimonial alliance with one of them. He had 
written (and the record explains the origin of his acquaintance 
with Quaker families) : " I dined with Thomas Erskine and three 
other Quakers from England, at their desire. My sister May 
lodges in London at one of their houses. I endeavoured to 
divert it all I could, yet I could not prevent their talking a great 
deal about their principles, and what they said haunted me when 
I got from them. I see Satan \N'ill suffer mankind to run into 
any delusion however sublime, provided they don't come to 
Christ. These people have high pretences to conformity with 
God and unbounded benevolence to their fellow creatures, which 

^ The story is that a lady who had just lost her husband, wrote a long 
letter, pouring out her grief, to Talleyrand, who sent the brief reply : — 

Ma chere Madame^ 

Hilas I Hilas / 

Toujotirs h z/ous, Talleyrand, 
Not long afterwards the same lady wrote another long letter, announcing 
that she was going to be married again. To which Talleyrand responded : — 

Ala chere Madame^ 

A-ka! A-kal 

Toujours h vousy TaUeyrand, 
VOL. I. 2 B 


halts here, — that they don't unprove the Lord Jesus for sanctifi- 
cation. They reject the sacraments of Baptism and the Supper, 
as being but the literal sense of the Scriptures to which they pay 
but small regard. Their rapturous enthusiasms fill them with 
spiritual pride and self-conceit I was unwilling to enter into 
argument with them, and thought most of the time that I was in 
their company very ill-spent" When George Drummond came 
to marrying Mrs. Green he found that he had some scruples on 
her part, and also some disapprobation on the part of his friends, 
to overcome. In a letter from him, still extant, to one of his 
sons-in-law, he says : " She is over her difficulty about the manner 
of performing the ceremony." "It's to be gone about in the 
privatest manner and, it may be, is not to be owned for some 
time either there {i.e. in England) or here. Of course I must 
not recoil from this country ; my going won't keep a secret long. 
My letter for leave of absence must come to the Board {Le, of 
Excise). I must own I am to go, then ; but I tell nobody upon 
what footing but those I must" All this is very different from the 
tone of the Diary, and seems to show that during the sixteen 
years which had elapsed since the days of "R. B." George 
Drummond had grown more sensible in matters of religion.* 
His fourth wife had no family, and only lived for four years after 
marrying him. His two last marriages doubtless rendered him 
very comfortable in his circumstances, and he was enabled to 
purchase the handsome house which he called Drummond Lodge, 
and which stood in the centre of what is now Drummond Place. 
The fragment which remains of George Drummond's Diary 
contains very few references to external and contemporary events, 
and in this respect is disappointing. No allusion is made to the 
University of Edinburgh. There are some rather interesting 
entries about the Porteous riot and the action taken thereupon 
by the Government, but they are not to our present purpose. 
These are almost the only public matters referred to. The Diary 

1 During this time Drummond was greatly under the influence of his son- 
in-law, Dr. Jardine, Minister of the Tron Church, and Dean of the Thistle, 
who was regarded as the oracle of the Moderate party. Dr. Somervillc (p. 
9 1 ) quotes the following from some CotUempora^y Verses by Lord Dreghom : — 

** The old Provost, who danced to the whistle 
Of that arch-politician, the Dean of the Thistle." 

1738.] GEORGE DRUMMOND. 37i 

shows Drummond in a depressed and somewhat unnatural frame 
of mind. But withal it contains indications that, with all the 
weight of care which he then had at his heart, he was genial 
and popular, as well as unrelaxing in public business. When he 
got his appointment as Commissioner of Excise, and first went 
to the Office, he records : " The undissembled joy I read in the 
faces of all the folks there, and the Commissioners as much as any, 
gave me a very sensible pleasure and fixed a contentedness in my 
mind" There are one or two references to the progress of the 
Infirmary, of which the following are the most important, though 
they chiefly show the careful watch which this good man kept 
over his own motives : — 

"2 2d March 1738. — I have had more work than evQr 
upon my hands this winter and all of it for others. The Royal 
Infirmary is one of the affairs I have given a great deal of time 
to. We have got a plan for our house ; it's to hold above two 
hundred patients. I look to the Lord often about it, to make 
it a blessing to the place and to the nation. The distinguished 
part I have in it made me afraid that the spring of my action 
about it might degenerate," etc. 

" 13th October 1738. — Forwarding the building of the 
Infirmary is the only amusement I have allowed myself in of 
a great while, but I have not the same pleasure in it I had, 
because of late I began to be afraid vanity and not regard to 
God is become the spring of my activity. At first it was some- 
what uphill work, but now it's the favourite undertaking among 
all ranks of people ; and as the fervour of my temper naturally 
leads me to be very active in every society I am a member of, 
and as the Lord gives remarkable success to all our applications, 
I am distinguished and called * the Father of it, etc,* with which, 
alas ! I have too much pride and vanity not to be pleased. Yea, 
I am afraid I am puffed up. Woe's mc, I can neither be humble 
under success, nor bear up under discouragement. O what a 
poor worthless creature am I ! I am sure my eye was single 
when I set out in this undertaking." 

George Drummond's Diaiy gives us curious information about 
a particular episode in his life and circumstances, but it does not 
enable us to know him ; the entries in a record of the kind are 
too one-sided, — it may seem a parodox to say so, but they are 


too private to be entirely real. The concrete man is something 
between what a man appears to himself in utter privacy, and 
what he appears to others in the business of life. Hence, prob- 
ably, George Drummond was less religious than he thought 
himself, but more religious than others thought him. On the 
whole, we get the impression that he was a simple-hearted, some- 
what under-educated man, who was for the time greatly under 
the influence of " R. B.," and was led to sympathise with spiritual- 
istic extravagances, but at the same time always gravitated towards 
common sense. In his Diary we find no trace of anything mean, 
and we turn with pleasure from his introverted account of him- 
self to his great public achievements, and to the appearance which 
he presented to his contemporaries. Dr. Somerville says of him : 
" The dignity of his person in advanced age, when I knew him, 
commanded at first sight respect and reverence, insomuch that 
if a stranger had been introduced to any meeting of the inhabitants 
of Edinburgh for the consideration of business of the most im- 
jxjrtant nature, his eye would have immediately selected Mr. 
Drummond as the fittest person to take the lead in council 
Every prepossession in his favour was confirmed upon further 
acquaintance, by the politeness of his manners, and the affability 
of his conversation." ^ 

George Drummond^s services to the University have been 
well summed up by Bower,^ who says : " That he was the greatest 
benefactor which the University ever had, will not be called in 
question by those who are acquainted with his history. From 
the year 17 15 to the time of his death in 1766, nothing was 
done in the College without his advice or direction. His care 
of the University not only extended to an accurate investigation 
how its funds were expended, but he was of much more essential 
service in procuring men of real talents to be appointed as Pro- 
fessors. In the course of the fifty years during which he managed 
the city, he may be said to have appointed all the Professors. 
The following gentlemen were introduced to the University whilst 
he was Provost, and he served that honourable office six times. 
In this catalogue the names of the greatest ornaments of the 
University are included : — 

1 Life and Times ^ p. 45. 
' Hist, Un, £d,, vol. il p. 185. 




^W ' '^H 








_ _"_ -"S^^^BB 

1766.] GEORGE DRUMMOND. 373 

"Adam Watt, Humanity; Colin M*Laurin, Mathematics; 
Joseph Gibson, Midwifery ; Robert Whytt, Theory and Practice 
of Medicine ; Matthew Stewart, Mathematics ; James Robertson, 
Hebrew; John Goldie, Principal; Robert Hamilton, Divinity; 
James Balfour, Moral Philosophy, afterwards the Law of Nature 
and Nations; Robert Dick, Civil Law; William Cullen, Chemistry, 
and Theory and Practice of Medicine; Thomas Young, Midwifery; 
Alexander Monro, secundus ; Adam Ferguson, Natural and after- 
wards Moral Philosophy ; William Robertson, Principal ; Robert 
Gumming, Church History; Hugh Blair, Rhetoric" 

George Drummond died on the 4th December 1766, at 
Dniramond Lodge, and a great procession, including the Prin- 
cipal and Professors of the University, attended him with every 
mark of respect to his bur)ung-place in the Canongate Churchyard 
on the 8th of the same month. On that morning Dr. Cullen, in 
dismissing his class before the conclusion of the hour, apologised 
to them by saying that he was " called upon by the Principal to 
attend a Faculty Meeting, the reason of which was that the 
College were to attend a funeral to-day, to put the highest mark 
of respect upon the greatest character Edinburgh ever saw. That 
they were unanimously of opinion too much could not be done 
by them to show the sense they had of his merit ; that Medicine 
owed more to him than to all the men who ever sat in that Chair ; 
and it was well known he followed them out with every good 
office in his power in or out of office. WTio but himself could 
erect such an edifice as a Royal Infirmary ? What benefit it was 
to Medicine, besides the relieving the distressed ! and therefore 
he well knew they (/>. the Students) would readily excuse his 
leaving his Chair in order to join his Brethren, that they in the 
most public manner might testify to the world what high venera- 
tion they had for so noble a character." 

In the lobby of the New Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 
whither it has been transferred from the original Infirmary 
which Drummond built, there is an admirable and characteristic 
bust of him by NoUekens, w^ith an inscription on the pedestal by 
Principal Robertson : — 

** George Drummond 
To whom this country is indebted for all the benefit which it 
derives from the Royal Infirmary." 


But Scotland owes more to George Drammond than the 
institution of an Infirmary, and the real monument to him is — 
modem Edinburgh. 

Appendix K. The Natural History Museum of the 

University of Edinburgh. 

The subject of this Appendix is something that was and is not. 
Its Natural History Museum was once the great glory of the 
University of Edinburgh, but that has long since been carried oflf 
and absorbed into a Governmental institution, which, so far as 
possible, repudiates all connection with the University. A few 
brief notes on the history of the Museum once possessed by the 
University may perhaps here suffice. 

The first attempts to get together a collection of Natural 
History specimens in Edinburgh were made by those two friends 
to whose zeal and energy we owe (as above related, pp. 217- 
223) the establishment of the Physic Garden and of the Royal 
College of Physicians, namely. Dr. Andrew Balfour and Sir Robert 
Sibbald. Balfour had commenced collecting before Sibbald, and 
he spent twenty-three years, as Bower says, in amassing natural 
curiosities from all countries, in the pursuit of which object his 
wealth and his extensive travels gave him a great advantage. 
What became of Balfour's collection is not stated, but Sibbald 
considered the collection which he began making towards the 
end of the eighteenth century to be a supplement to that of his 
friend. He proceeded on a less extensive scale than Balfour had 
done, and aimed especially at collecting indigenous curiosities, 
such as would throw light on the Natural History of Scotland. 
In 1697 he presented the specimens which he had got together 
to the College of Edinburgh, accompanied by a catalogue, which 
was dedicated to the Town Council, and bore the title of Auc- 
torium Muscci Balfouriani c Musixo Sibbaldiano, And this looks 
as if Balfour's collection had been already given to the College ; 
only Bower in relating the above-mentioned circumstances (vol i. 
pp. 376-78) does not say so.^ The catalogue contains 216 pages 

^ In 1688, when Morer visited the College of Edinburgh, he was shown 
such treasures as it then possessed, and he describes them in the following 
terms : ** The staircase before mentioned leads us up to a large room, formerly 


in i2mo, and describes the objects in the collection, classified 
into — I. Minerals; 11. The more rare substances taken from 
plants ; III. The more rare productions from the Animal King- 
dom ; IV. Works of Art, with MSB. and rare books added. 

Sibbald^s collection having been added to such specimens of 
Natural History as the College previously possessed, the Town 
Council a few years later bethought them to provide for the 
keeping in order of the Museum which had been commenced. 
As we have seen above (p. 295), they appointed the first Pro- 
fessor of Anatomy in 1705, to "take exact notice and inspection 
of the rarities of the College," and to give in to the Council " an 
exact inventory of the same." This interest in the Natural 
History collections, for want of a Professor of the subject, was not 
maintained; the objects fell into disorder, deteriorated, or were 
abstracted. By 1770, when Ramsay was appointed the first 
Professor of the subject, the Sibbald Museum had disappeared 

When in 1766 Dr. Walker was appointed to be Ramsay's 
successor, he immediately commenced getting together a new 
Natural History collection for the use of his class. And in 1783, 
when the Royal Society of Edinburgh was founded (in the manner 
which will be related elsewhere), it was laid down by its charter 
that all the specimens of Natural History belonging to the Society 
should be placed under the custody of the University. And 
thus the University got possession of the Huttonian collection of 
minerals and other valuable collections. On Dr. Walker's death 
such specimens as he had himself procured for the University 
were removed by his family as being private property. 

The third Professor of Natural History, Jameson, succeeded 
to the Chair in 1804, and it must be remembered that at that 
time the University buildings were in a deplorable condition, 

their Library, but is now used for a commencement chamber, and is the 
Common-Hall for all College entertainment and business of moment. Here 
were several maps, globes, and some books, with a few rarities, as a Palm- 
leaf two yards and a half long ; a Speaking-trumpet made of copper, about 
three yards in length ; a Sea-horse Pissle two yards ; an American Shell which 
the natives make their trumpet ; a crooked Horn divers inches long, cut out 
of a woman's head above the right ear, when she was fifty years old, and lived 
twelve years after." It may be mentioned that this horn is now in the Ana- 
tomical Museum of the University, with a silver plate attached to it, on which 
the history of the patient is recorded. 


parts of the old College having been pulled down, and the new 
buildings having been arrested for want of funds when only a 
small instalment of them had been completed. Such curiosities 
and specimens as the University possessed were still kept in the 
Upper Hall mentioned by Morer. And here Jameson at once 
commenced to form, de tiovo, a zoological collection, and for fifty 
years he continued with the most distinguished success to gather 
in contributions to it from all parts of the world. This he did 
by setting his numerous pupils to work for him in whatever 
country they might be placed But besides isolated contributions 
of particular objects, there came in several ready-formed collec- 
tions for the aggrandisement of the Museum. In addition to the 
Huttonian collection held for the Royal Society, the University 
received as a direct gift to itself the zoological collections of 
Dr. William Thomson, who having got his medical education in 
Edinburgh, had been made Professor of Anatomy in Oxford, and 
afterwards retired to reside at Naples, and finally at Palerma 

In 181 9 the great Natural History collection of M. Du 
Fresne was announced for sale in Paris, and the Senatus having 
the reversion of General Reid's legacy of ;£5 2,000 to look 
forward to, borrowed the sum of >^3ooo firom some of the 
Edinburgh Banks ^ on the security of this reversion, and purchased 
the collection. Next year, in 1820, the "Regius Museum" for 
the use of the Regius Professor of Natural History, and for the 
reception of his collections, was completed, occupying the whole 
of the west side of the University quadrangle, and was most 
carefully fitted up by Playfair, the architect, under Professor 
Jameson's instruction. All the splendid zoological display was 
removed thither, and additions to it continued to flow in. In 
the same year, 1820, a cordial letter arrived from the Marquis of 
Hastings, Governor- General of India, forwarding an elephant's 
skeleton, and promising such duplicates of specimens as there 
might be in the possession of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta, In 
1822 Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of New South Wales, sent 
large contributions of natural objects from that country. Bower, 
writing in 1830, says of the Museum : " The collection of Birds is 
very extensive. It is the third in Europe, only being exceeded by 
those of Paris and Berlin. There are upwards of three thousand 

* These were the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank, and Forbes & Co. 


different specimens. What greatly enhances the splendour of 
the sight, is, that every individual throughout the whole Kingdom, 
which the Museum contains, is in the highest state of preservation, 
no pains or expense having been spared to accomplish the end 
in view. The Professor has also studied to introduce scientific 
arrangement, which renders it more interesting to the philosopher, 
as well as more agreeable to the mere spectator." Other authorities 
spoke of the Natural History collection, as a whole, as being 
in this country " second only to that of the British Museum." 

In December 1820 a meeting was held of persons represent- 
ing the College Buildings Commissioners, the Senatus, and the 
Town Council, and rules were drawn up for the admission of the 
public to the Museum now placed in the new buildings. The 
admission fee was fixed at half-a-crown, in order to provide a fund 
for keeping up the collections. In 1834 (as we shall see else- 
where) the Town Council reduced the admission fee to one 
shilling, contrary to the wishes of the Senatus. And in 1839 
they proposed to go still further in the direction of popularising 
the Museum by reducing the price of entry to sixpence. This, 
however, does not appear to have been carried out. 

In 1852, with pardonable want of foresight, the Senatus 
petitioned Government to take over the Natural History collec- 
tion of the University, which was overflowing the Museum 
provided for it, and to convert it into a National collection in a 
building to be erected to the west of the College, as an addition 
to and integral part of the University buildings. The Senatus 
confidingly thought that they could give away their collections 
and yet still retain them. They even thought that a paternal 
Government would take the opportunity to build them a Gradua- 
tion Hall as part of the new building to be erected. How 
exceedingly deceived they were in their expectations has been 
to some extent recorded above (p. 357). The whole transaction 
has turned out in many ways an unfortunate one. If the Science 
and Art Department of Her Majesty's Government resolved to 
establish a Museum in Edinburgh — which it was doubtless very 
proper for them to do — they might have done so without reference 
to the University. The Treasury now pays above ;;^i 1,000 a 
year for the maintenance of their Museum, so that the saving 
effected by taking over the University's collections was insigni- 


ficant On the other hand, the University has undoubtedly lost 
prestige by the loss of its Museum. All the pledges made by 
Government at the time of the transfer have been violated. And 
the very existence of the Government Museum in its actual 
locality has been a great disadvantage to the University. 

Appendix L. The Edinburgh Observatory. 

Strenuous efforts were made by the great Professor M'Laurin 
to provide an Observatory for the instruction of Students in the 
University of Edinburgh. In this good purpose he was, doubt- 
less, encouraged by George Drummond, and the matter was pro- 
gressing favourably when the troubles arising out of the Porteous 
riot in 1736 put a stop to it. In 1740 Lord Morton, then Lord 
Clerk Register, handed over to the University ;£^ioo towards 
building an Observatory; other subscriptions came in, and 
M*I^urin raised some money for the purpose by a course of popular 
lectures on experimental philosophy. The sum now amounted 
to ;;^3oo, and that being considered sufficient, Maclaurin begged 
of the Town Council "so much of the southern row of the 
College buildings as would be sufficient," together with certain 
grants of building materials. This was agreed to, and an Obser- 
vatory would have arisen under M^Laurin's auspices about the 
centre of the present University Library had not the Rebellion 
of 1745 intcr\'ened, shortly after which M*Laurin died. 

The money which had been collected was placed in the hands 
of two trustees, "both of whom," says Arnot (writing in 1779), 
"unfortunately became bankrupt"^ But a dividend, amounting 
with interest to about ;;^4oo, was recovered out of their estates 
in 1 7 7 7. At that time a Mr. Short, brother and executor to a 
London optician, had come to Edinburgh, bringing with him the 
optical instruments he had inherited, and among them a large 
reflecting telescope. He wished as a speculation to erect an 
Observatory in order to receive fees from visitors who might 
come to indulge their curiosity or to make observations ; and he 
made an application to the Town Council to be allowed to do 
so. Some of the Professors, especially Alexander Monro secundus^ 
endeavoured to utilise this proposal for the benefit of the Uni- 

* Arnot's History of Edinburgh ^ p. 415. One of the bankrupts was 
Matthew Stewart, Professor of Mnthematics in the University. 


versity. And an arrangement was made by which a liferent of 
half an acre of ground on the Calton Hill was granted to Mr. 
Short, and the money above mentioned was handed over to him 
on condition of his building and fitting up an Observatory, which, 
with all the instruments therein, was to become the absolute 
property of the Town Council at the death of Short During 
his life he was to make what he could out of entrance-fees from 
the public, but Students of the University were to be admitted 
on favourable terms. 

A design for the Observatory was made by an architect 
named Craig. The foundation-stone was laid by the Lord 
Provost, accompanied by the Town Council and Senatus, on the 
25th June 1776. But Amot, a contemporary writer, tells us 
that "about this time, Mr. Robert Adam" (to whom the city 
owes so many of its best buildings) "happened to come to 
Edinburgh. Upon seeing the intended Observatory, founded 
upon the top of a high and abrupt hill, he conceived the idea of 
giving the whole the appearance of a fortification. Accordingly 
the line was chalked out for enclosing the limits of the Obser- 
vatory with a wall constructed with buttresses and embrasures 
and having Gothic towers at the angles. The beauty of the 
design was so much admired that the main object was forgot 
The workmen left the Observatory, already half built, and turned 
themselves to raise the tower on the south-west brow of the hill. 
This was greatly promoted by Mr. Short, who in the tower saw 
an excellent accommodation for himself and family. Upon this 
building was exhausted all the money destined for the Obser- 
\3itory ; and besides a considerable arrear was incurred to the 
tradesmen. To discharge this the Duke of Hamilton, having 
gained at Leith races, in July 1777, His Majesty's Purse of a 
hundred guineas, generously bestowed it for that purpose. Still, 
however, this sum was only applied to discharge arrears already 
incurred; the building was not advanced an inch." The Town 
Council, with a supineness very different from the spirit of George 
Drummond, moved no further in the matter. " And thus," sighs 
Arnot, " an optical instrument, perhaps the finest in the world, 
is lost for the want of a proper place to keep it in ; and the 
Observatory stands a half-finished work upon the highest hill in 


This striking instance of mismanagement remained con- 
spicuous to all eyes for more than a quarter of a century, though 
in the meantime a Professor of Practical Astronomy had been 
appointed and had no means of teaching his subject In 1 8 1 2 
a private Society, calling itself the Astronomical Institution of 
Edinburgh,^ obtained from the Town Council a grant of the 
Observatory enclosure on the Calton Hill on condition that the 
premises should be used solely for the purposes of an Astrono- 
mical Observatory ; and they commenced building from a design 
from Playfair, in which it is said that scientific considerations 
were too much sacrificed to the picturesque. The means of the 
Society soon ran short, and in 1 8 1 3 they began applying to the 
Treasury for assistance, which at last came to them in 1826 in 
the shape of a grant of ;£^2ooo for the completion of the build- 
ings and the purchase of instruments. 

The Universities Commission having reported in 1830 on 
the death of Blair, the first Professor of Practical Astronomy, 
that his Chair ought not to be filled up till an Observatory could 
be provided for his successor, the Government negotiated with 
the Astronomical Institution, who gave " the use of the Obser- 
vatory created by them and all the instruments therein contained 
to the Professor of Practical Astronomy." And Henderson being 
appointed to the Chair in 1834, at once commenced his course 
of laborious observations. The Astronomical Institution, having 
ensured that a competent observer would be maintained at the 
public expense, desired to withdraw from further responsibility as 
to the building; and in 1847, under sanction of the Treasury, 
the Commissioners of Woods and Forests accepted a transfer to 
them of the Observatory and premises on the Calton Hill under 
three conditions : ist, that the office of Astronomer -Rojral for 
Scotland should be permanently associated with the Regius 
Professorship of Practical Astronomy in the University of Edin- 
burgh ; 2d, that the Astronomer should be responsible solely to 
the department of Government by which he should be appointed ; 
3d, that a Board of Visitors should be constituted for the Obser- 
vatory similar to those acting at Greenwich or elsewhere, who 
should annually report and make suggestions to Government 

^ At that time Playfair, Professor of Natural Philosophy, was President, 
and Dr. David Brewster Secretary, of the Astronomical Institution. 


These arrangements were concluded during the incumbency of 
the present Professor and Astronomer-Royal, who was appointed 
in 1846. 

We have above related (p. 343) how that gentleman found, 
or considered, himself unable to perform, the function of deliver- 
ing lectures in his Professorial capacity ; and in his capacity of 
Astronomer-Royal he constantly represented to Gk)vernment the 
inadequacy of his staff, his allowances, his instruments, and his 
buildings, for prosecuting the important work with which he had 
been entrusted In 1876 a small Commission of most able 
ixjrsonages (scientifically and otherwise), with Lord Lindsay as 
Chairman, was appointed by Parliament to inquire into the state 
of the Observatory. They reported unfavourably upon both 
building and instruments, and stated their opinion that, in order 
to obtain complete efficiency, it would be necessary to remove 
the Observatory altogether, and rebuild it on some other site to 
the west or south-cast of the town. One curious fact was men- 
tioned by them, namely, that the labours of Henderson had been 
vitiated " by large and at first unaccountable errors which had 
crept into the results of his observations." It was ultimately 
ascertained that these were due to the extreme sensitiveness of 
the Craigleith sandstone composing the piers upon which the 
transit instrument was mounted. This stone had been chosen 
by the Astronomical Institution as the very finest and most suit- 
able for their purpose. But the experience of forty years has 
shown that " in fact the Craigleith sandstone ranks next to cast- 
iron in the amount of its expansion under heat. The light of a 
common bulFs-cye lamp, thrown upon one of the piers, will cause 
it to expand to such an extent that the direction of the axis 
of the telescope is sensibly altered ; and a similar phenomenon 
will be produced, though in a less degree, even by the approach 
of the human body to the stone. The liability of the piers to 
tremor was also exhibited to us by Professor Smyth in the process 
of taking the collimation error by reflection from the mercury 
trough. And when looking through the telescope at the surface 
of the mercury, we were able to see the effects of the tapping of 
the hand, or even of a single finger, on the stone." 


Appendix M. General Reid. 

The University owes so much to General Reid that it is a pleasing 
duty to collect any contemporary notices of him, or other parti- 
culars, which may still survive. The following fragments of 
information have been brought to notice by the kindness of Mr. 
Small, the University Librariaa 

We have seen above (p. 350) that General Reid spoke of 
himself as the last representative of an old Perthshire family. 
These were the Robertsons of Straloch ; and it may seem odd 
to state that General Raid's father was Alexander Robertson of 
Straloch. But he and his forefathers for more than three cen- 
turies had been styled the "Barons Rua," or "Roy," this 
designation having arisen from the family having got a royal 
grant of a barony, and from the first of the line having had 
red hair. While the head of the family was addressed in all 
companies as " Baron Rua," his signature was invariably Robert- 
son, until John Robertson — our General — the last of the race, 
who assumed the nickname, which had grown into a courtesy 
title, as his surname, and called himself " Reid " (which would 
be Anglice "Red," see above, page 173). This is just what the 
celebrated Rob Rua Macgregor did, when he signed himself 
Rob Roy.^ But the curious thing is that John Robertson called 
himself Reid during his father's lifetime, when he was not as yet 
Baron Rua, and was only entitled to the name of Robertsofi. 

He joined the Regiment raised by the Earl of Loudon in 
1745, half of which went abroad, and the other half was kept in 
Scotland as a check upon Prince Charlie's Highlanders. He 
afterwards joined the 42d Regiment, and served with them in 
America, He there married Susanna Alexander, whose brother 
claimed the earldom of Stirling, the title of which was denied 
to him by the House of Lords owing to his having taken part in 
the Jacobite rising, but was accorded to him in America. 

Major John Reid, as he had now become, acquired — how, 
is not very clear — an estate in the neighbourhood of New York, 
which his father, in a letter still extant, describes as " larger than 
all Perthshire." Bower says that the estate was confiscated, but 

^ These facts are given by Colonel David Stewart, in his Sketches of the 
Highlanders^ vol. i. p. 98.